More and more people live in areas prone to wildfires. Wildfire smoke can harm you in multiple ways. Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system and worsen conditions for those who have chronic heart and lung diseases. Even someone who is healthy can get sick if enough is smoke in the air. If possible, limit your exposure to smoke. Here are some tips to help you protect your health:
- Pay attention to local air quality reports and the U.S. Air Quality Index. When a wildfire occurs in your area, watch for news or health warnings about smoke. Pay attention to public health messages and take extra safety measures such as avoiding spending time outdoors.
- Pay attention to visibility guides if they are available. Although not every community measures the amount of particles in the air, some communities in the western United States have guidelines to help people estimate air quality based on how far they can see.
- If you are told to stay indoors, stay indoors and keep your indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors closed unless it's very hot outside. Run an air conditioner if you have one, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside. Seek shelter elsewhere if you do not have an air conditioner and it's too warm to stay inside with the windows closed.
If you’re a pregnant woman who might be evacuated from your home, please do the following:
- Take your prescription medicines with you.
- Bring bottled water to make sure you have plenty to drink.
- Be prepared to tell the staff at the shelter or temporary housing you are pregnant or if you think you might be pregnant.
- Be prepared to continue your prenatal care—even with a different provider, if necessary.
- Be prepared to tell the health care providers about any special needs or health problems that you have as well as any medicines you might be taking (both over the counter and prescription.)
- Avoid breathing smoke or fumes and stay away from areas where there is a lot of smoke. Stay indoors if possible.
- Rest often.
If you are a parent with a young infant who might be evacuated from your home, please do the following:
- Take your baby’s medicines with you.
- Make sure your baby gets plenty of breast milk or formula—bring as much as you can.
- Make sure health care providers at shelters or temporary housing know of any special needs or health problems your baby has as well as any medicines your baby is taking (both over the counter and prescription).
- Keep your baby away from areas where there is smoke or fumes, and stay indoors if possible.