American Lung Association Shares Preparation Tips for Wildfire Season
(June 18, 2019) - ANCHORAGE, Alaska
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With wildfires burning in Alaska, the American Lung Association reminds everyone that wildfires can bring significant health risks. Smoke from wildfires can be a lethal hazard for those in affected areas and across the state as wind can blow smoke across many miles. Exposure to wildfire smoke and particle pollution can trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes.
The American Lung Association offers the following tips for hazardous wildfire conditions:
• Stay inside as much as possible. Close any doors, windows and fireplace dampers shut –Use the recirculation setting on home air conditioners to avoid outdoor air contamination. Avoid exercising outdoors. If you have to travel through smoking areas, close your car windows and vents and set your vehicle’s air conditioning to recirculate.
• Protect the air inside your home. Research shows that air purifiers can help protect your health during a wildfire. Consider using an air purifier that has a HEPA filter to capture harmful particles in your home and circulate air around the whole room to help clear the air in your home from smoke.
• Roll up your car windows. When driving your car in smoky areas, keep your windows and vents closed. Air conditioning should only be operated in the "recirculate" setting.
• Don't exercise outside. If you live close to or in the surrounding area, don't exercise outdoors, especially if you smell smoke or notice eye or throat irritation.
• Don’t depend on a dust mask. Ordinary dust masks will not help. Masks with a HEPA filter or an N-95 will filter out the damaging fine particles in wildfire smoke, but ensure that they fit your face (masks may not fit children). Consult with your doctor before using a mask, especially if you have lung disease, as it may be difficult to use.
• Check with your doctor. If you have any worsening symptoms, check in with your physician about symptoms and your medications.
• Know the air quality in your area. Visit www.airnow.gov or download the AirNow app on your smartphone. Local radio, TV weather reports, newspapers and websites such as http://dec.alaska.gov/Applications/Air/airtoolsweb/Advisories can also provide local updates for air quality conditions.
“Breathing wildfire smoke is unhealthy for everyone,” said Marge Stoneking, Executive Director for the American Lung Association in Alaska. “Babies, small children, pregnant women, the elderly and anyone with existing respiratory problems, diabetes or heart disease are at increased risk for immediate health issues or even death.”
More information on how to protect yourself from wildfire smoke can be found here. You can also call the American Lung Association Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNG-USA to speak with respiratory therapists and registered nurses regarding questions about lung health.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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