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Smoke presents health dangers

As multiple fires continue to burn in the south Wasco County area, people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children, are advised to stay indoors.

Poor air quality conditions are a health threat and should be avoided by all residents in smoky communities. Remember, local smoke levels can rise and fall rapidly depending on weather factors, including wind direction.

Take the following precautions to avoid breathing problems or other symptoms from smoke:

  1. Be aware of smoke concentrations in your area.
  2. Avoid outdoor exertion during such conditions. Avoid strenuous outdoor activity including sports practice, work and recreation.
  3. Drink lots of water - staying hydrated can keep your airways moist which will help reduce symptoms of respiratory irritation such as scratchy throat, running nose and coughing.
  4. Try to avoid driving in smoky areas. If you do need to drive in these areas, keep your windows rolled up and vents closed. If you need air conditioning, make sure you set your system on “re-circulate” to avoid bringing smoke into your car.
  5. Avoid smoke by staying indoors, closing all windows and doors and use a filter in your heating/cooling system that removes very fine particulate matter.
  6. People with concerns about health issues, including those suffering from asthma or other respiratory problems, should follow their breathing management plans; keep medications on hand, and contact healthcare providers if necessary.

Helpful links:

Oregon Smoke blog: http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com

DEQ’s Air Quality Index: http://www.deq.state.or.us/aqi/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fact sheet about the health threats from wildfire smoke: http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/wildfires/index.asp

OHA wildfires webpage: http://public.health.oregon.gov/Preparedness/Prepare/Pages/PrepareForWildfire.aspx

North Central Public Health: www.ncphd.org

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