American Lung Association Shares Preparation Tips for Wildfire Season
(May 1, 2019) - LOS ANGELES
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2018 was the most destructive wildfire season that the state of California has seen. In addition to the devastation that wildfires leave in their wake, the smoke from these fires can create unhealthy air quality conditions for people – especially those with lung diseases such as asthma or COPD. During May’s Asthma Awareness Month, the American Lung Association in California offers the following tips for preparing for wildfire season.
- Create an Asthma or COPD Travel Pack, in case of evacuation. To ensure you have all of the medicines and instructions you need in one easily accessible place, create a Travel Pack that includes:
- Copies of your Asthma Action Plan or COPD Action Plan
- An extra written prescription in case medication is lost or destroyed
- Insurance card and healthcare provider contact information
- Both quick-relief and controller medications (make sure there is enough to get you through your stay, and extra in case you get held over unexpectedly)
- A spacer
- A Peak Flow Meter, if prescribed by your healthcare provider
- Be Prepared to Stay indoors. During a wildfire, people living close to the fire-stricken areas should remain indoors and avoid breathing smoke, ashes and other pollution in the area. In addition, keep doors, windows and fireplace dampers shut and preferably with clean air circulating through air conditioners on the recirculation setting
- Protect the air in your home. Scientific research shows that using a high efficiency particulate air purifier to clean the air in your home 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.
- 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.
- Know when to seek medical attention. If you experience wheezing, shortness of breath, difficulty taking a full breath, chest heaviness, lightheadedness and dizziness, or lung disease symptoms worsen, contact your healthcare provider.
- Ask for help. The American Lung Association’s Lung Helpline at 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) is staffed by nurses and respiratory therapists, and is a free resource to answer any questions about the lungs, lung disease and lung health, including how to protect your lungs during wildfires.
"No matter the size of the wildfire, it can create conditions that put even healthy individuals at risk," said Albert Rizzo, M.D., American Lung Association Chief Medical Officer. "During times of intense smoke, people face an increased risk of adverse health effects ranging from coughing and wheezing to more serious illness, including reduced lung function, bronchitis, worsening of asthma symptoms and premature death. This is especially concerning for older adults and children as they are most susceptible to smoke."
More information on how wildfire smoke affects lung health is available at Lung.org/wildfires.
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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