As a wildfire continues to rage near the Coachella Valley, Desert Regional Medical Center is offering tips for dealing with wildfire smoke to the community.
While older adults, pregnant women, children and people with lung or heart problems are most sensitive to smoke exposure, Desert Regional says everyone should take precautions until the air is free of smoke and ash.
Symptoms of smoke exposure:
- watery, itchy eyes
- scratchy throat
- shortness of breath
- runny nose
- chest pain or difficulty breathing
Those with asthma, COPD and heart disease may see worsening conditions due to smoke. According to Desert Regional, it’s best to contact your doctor if you anticipate or see worsening conditions, or if you are coughing persistently or have difficulty breathing.
How to protect yourself and your family from smoke:
- Check area air quality reports or health warnings on local news and weather stations.
- Stay inside and keep doors, windows and fireplace dampers closed.
- Turn off your air conditioner’s fresh-air intake and make sure air conditioner filters are clean.
- Air filtration units should be correctly sized and units with ozone-generating filters should be avoided.
- Air humidifiers can help relieve a dry nose and throat.
- N95 masks that have been properly fitted can help protect you from smoke — not the masks you find at the hardware store.
- Car air conditioners should be set to recirculate air instead of pulling in outside air.
- If dust particles and ash are inside your home, wipe down surfaces with a wet cloth.
- Even if you filter out particles from smoke, breathing smoke means breathing carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide — so just stay out of it.
If you’re in an area with heavy smoke, Desert Regional suggests considering evacuating to a safer area with friends or family.
For a free referral to a pulmonary specialist or another physician, you can contact Desert Regional Medical Center at (800) 491-4990.