California Poison Control System (CPCS), the largest single provider of poison control services in the U.S., has issued a warning about the dangers of wildfire smoke for children and adults with fires now burning throughout the West.
“Wildfire smoke exposure can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, throat and lungs,” said Dr. Rais Vohra, Medical Director for the Fresno/Madera Division of CPCS. He added, “Infants and young children, as well as seniors and pregnant women tend to be more susceptible than others. Those with current or chronic illnesses such heart or lung disease should take extra cautions to keep all medications with them at all times, especially when evacuating or relocating.”
Symptoms of smoke inhalation vary. Consult your healthcare provider for:
• Difficulty breathing
• Chest pain or tightness
• Eye irritation
• Sore throat
Dr. Vohra recommends the following for those in the vicinity of wildfires:
• Check the air quality reports on the news frequently. Changes in wind or other conditions can severely impact air quality.
• Avoid using devices that increase local pollution in your home or neighborhood, such as fireplaces, BBQs, gas lawnmowers, and leaf blowers.
• Avoid unnecessary outdoor activities in smoke-impacted areas.
• Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, not sodas.
• Check with your healthcare provider to see if he or she wants you to make any changes to your regular medications.
• Follow all local mandates related to masking in public places. If you have lung disease, you may need to use a higher grade of respirator masks (such as those rated N95) as they offer the best protection.
• If you see or smell smoke, head indoors or leave the area to prevent further exposure.
• Keep windows and doors closed tightly, to avoid bringing smoke into your home.
CPCS (www.CalPoison.org) is dedicated to providing the most up-to-date information regarding poison prevention. In case of an accidental poisoning, consumers should immediately call the nationwide number from any state -1-800-222-1222. Pharmacists, nurses, physician-toxicologists and poison information providers are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help.