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HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM WILDFIRE SMOKE
Dry conditions in much of the United States can increase the potential for wildfires in or near wilderness areas. Stay alert for wildfire smoke. This smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases.
Who is at greatest risk from wildfire smoke?
People who have heart or lung diseases, like heart disease, lung disease, or asthma, are at higher risk from wildfire smoke.
Older adults are more likely to be affected by smoke. This may be due to their increased risk of heart and lung diseases.
Children are more likely to be affected by health threats from smoke. Children’s airways are still developing and they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults. Also, children often spend more time outdoors engaged in activity and play.
Wildfires burning near residential area
Be prepared for wildfires.
Check local air quality reports. Listen and watch for news or health warnings about smoke. Find out if your community provides reports about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index (AQI) or check the report on AirNow.gov.external icon in addition, pay attention to public health messages about safety measures. Consult local visibility guides. Some communities have monitors that measure the number of particles in the air. In the western United States, some states and communities have guidelines to help people determine if there are high levels of particulates in the air by how far they can see.
Keep indoor air as clean as possible if you are advised to stay indoors. Keep windows and doors closed. Run an air conditioner, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside. If you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed, go to a designated shelter away from the affected area. Learn more about protecting yourself and your family from smoke during a wildfire.
Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution. Burning candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves can increase indoor pollution. Vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home, contributing to indoor pollution. Smoking also puts even more pollution into the air.
Prevent wildfires from starting. Prepare, build, maintain, and extinguish campfires safely. Follow local regulations if you burn trash or debris. Check with your local fire department to be sure the weather is safe enough for burning.
Follow the advice of your doctor or other healthcare provider about medicines and about your respiratory management plan if you have asthma or another lung disease. Consider evacuating if you are having trouble breathing. Call your doctor for advice if your symptoms worsen.
Do not rely on dust masks for protection . Paper “comfort” or “dust” masks commonly found at hardware stores are designed to trap large particles, such as sawdust. These masks will not protect your lungs from the small particles found in wildfire smoke. Read more on choosing and using respirators to protect your lungs from smoke and ash.
Evacuate from the path of wildfires. Listen to the news to learn about current evacuation orders. Follow the instructions of local officials about when and where to evacuate. Take only essential items with you. Follow designated evacuation routes–others may be blocked–and plan for heavy traffic.
Protect yourself cleaning up after a fire. Cleanup work can expose you to ash and other products of the fire that may irritate your eyes, nose, or skin and cause coughing and other health effects. Protect yourself against ash when you clean up. Wear gloves, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and shoes and socks to protect your skin. Wear goggles to protect your eyes.
Wash off any ash that gets on your skin or in your eyes or mouth as soon as you can.
Children should not do any cleanup work.
Limit how much ash you breathe in by wearing an N95 respirator.
COVID 19 IS STILL WITH US, SO BE CAREFUL AND FOLLOW THE GUIDE LINES
Solano County Statistics for September, 2020 Cases 5,825+15 Deaths 48
Keep things clean
Preventative measures are your first line of defense. The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to practice good hygiene and to make these CDC recommendations part of your routine:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Stay home when you are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, rather than into your hands.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Visit the CDC for guidelines on how to properly wash your hands and use hand sanitizer. (Yes, there’s plenty of science behind this basic habit.)
Wear a cloth face mask
On April 3, the CDC changed its guidelines on face masks, recommending that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings. This is especially encouraged in situations where social distancing is difficult to maintain (such as in a grocery store or pharmacy) and in areas of significant community-based transmission. According to the CDC, studies have shown that individuals with the novel coronavirus could be asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, prompting them to make this new recommendation. While this measure is intended to help mitigate the spread, it’s important to note that it does not replace social distancing recommendations. In addition, surgical masks and N-95 respirators should remain reserved for healthcare workers and medical first responders.
Avoid close contact
Social distancing remains a key way to mitigate spread. The CDC recommends maintaining a distance of approximately 6 feet from others in public places since respiratory droplets produced by coughing or sneezing do not travel more than 6 feet. While at home, remind everyone to practice everyday preventive actions – such as washing hands and wiping down surfaces – to help reduce the risk of getting sick. If you are symptomatic and have tested positive for COVID-19 but do not require hospitalization, you should stay in a specific “sick room” and away from other people in your home as much as possible and use a separate bathroom, if available. If your living space makes it difficult to keep a 6-foot distance, stay as far apart as you can and continue to practice good hygiene and wear a mask.
Restrict your travel
Traveling can help increase the spread of COVID-19 and put you at risk for contracting the disease. The CDC recommends avoiding all non-essential international travel due to the global spread of coronavirus. It also advises people to weigh the risks when it comes to domestic travel: “COVID-19 cases and deaths have been reported in all 50 states, and the situation is constantly changing,” states the CDC. “Because travel increases your chances of getting infected and spreading COVID-19, staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick.”
“For people at risk for the complications of COVID-19, such as those with underlying medical conditions or those who are older, it’s prudent to avoid travel,” says Dr. Goldberg.
If you must travel, take safety measures, consider your mode of transportation, and stay up to date on the restrictions that are in place at your destination.
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