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Health Threat as Cedar Fire Smoke Spreads into Area

 


Smoke levels from the Cedar fire are high in Tulare County, especially in the area of the city of Porterville. Smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and other plant materials. It can irritate your eyes and respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases.

“Community members who are affected should stay indoors and avoid exerting themselves,” warns Tulare County Public Health Director Jason T. Britt. “Even healthy people may begin experiencing unhealthy symptoms due to wildfire smoke.”

Wildfire smoke can cause:

· Coughing

· Shortness of breath

· Chest pain

· Headaches

· Irritated sinuses

· Asthma exacerbations

Older adults and children are more likely to be affected by smoke and health threats from smoke.

Those who have heart disease may experience:

· Chest pain

· Rapid heartbeat

· Shortness of breath

· Fatigue

People who have pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as respiratory allergies, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may experience a worsening of symptoms in the following ways:

· Inability to breathe normally

· Cough with or without mucus

· Chest discomfort

· Wheezing and shortness of breath

Limit your exposure to smoke by:

· Keeping indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors closed and, in hot weather, use your air conditioner if you have one and keep the fresh-air intake closed. If an air conditioning unit is unavailable, seek shelter at one of the local cooling centers found at http://tchhsa.org/hhsa/index.cfm/risk-and-prevention/preparing-for-public-health-emergencies/resources/.

· Avoiding burning candles or using gas stoves and vacuuming as these add to indoor pollution.

· Following your doctor’s advice about medicines and your respiratory management plan if you have asthma or another lung disease. Call your doctor immediately if symptoms worsen.

· Using an “N95” mask, which when properly worn, will offer some protection, and can be found at local hardware stores. Dust masks or paper comfort masks are only designed to trap larger particles, such as sawdust, and won’t provide protection for your lungs from smoke.

 

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