Protect Yourself from Exposure to Wildfire Smoke
Wildfire season is in full swing and we have the evidence to prove it—a smoke-filled valley. Although the smoke from wildfires may create some great sunsets, it also negatively impacts air quality and poses some serious health hazards.
Smoke and Air Quality
Smoke is made up of a complex mixture of gases and fine particles that are produced when wood and other organic matter burn. The fine particles pose the biggest health threat because these tiny particles can enter the eyes and respiratory system, where they cause a variety of health problems including burning/stinging eyes, runny nose, a scratchy throat, irritated sinuses, headaches, and even bronchitis.
Who Is At Risk?
If you’re healthy, the smoke won’t pose as many risks for you, although it’s still important to avoid it as much as possible. Some people are at greater risk from wildfire smoke than others:
- Individuals with heart or lung disease might suffer from more severe effects of the smoke—and they’ll experience these effects earlier and at lower smoke levels than their healthier counterparts.
- Older adults are often more affected by the smoke, especially if they are in poor health.
- Children are also more affected by smoke because their respiratory systems are still developing and they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults. Plus, they’re more likely to be active outdoors.
Symptoms to Look For
How can you tell if the smoke is affecting you? Smoke irritates the eyes and airways—so watch for a scratchy throat, runny nose, burning eyes, headaches, or a runny nose. If you have heart disease, you might experience chest pains, palpitations, shortness of breath, or fatigue as a result of smoke exposure. If you have lung disease, you might not be able to breathe as deeply as usual and might experience symptoms such as coughing, chest discomfort, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
Common sense is a huge factor in protecting yourself from the effects of wildfire smoke. Pay attention to the air quality reports and the visibility index—and simply take note of the smoke levels in the air.
On smoky days:
- Limit outdoor activity. This is especially important for children, the elderly, pregnant women, and individuals with heart or lung disease.
- Close the house up if possible. Keep windows closed and try to keep the indoor air as clean as possible. If you run your air conditioner, keep the fresh air intake closed and instead set your system to cool with recirculating air.
- Keep indoor air clean. Avoid using fireplaces (wood and gas) and candles. Don’t vacuum—this stirs up particles already inside your home.
- Avoid heavy outdoor work and vigorous outdoor exercise. Smoky days are the time to hit the treadmill, jump into an indoor cycling class, or enjoy all of the activities that Zenergy has to offer.
- Stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of water. This will help dilute the phlegm in the respiratory tract and will make it easier to cough smoke particles out. Coughing is good—it is your body’s way of clearing your lungs.
- Avoid caffeine, sugar, and alcohol. All of these things have a dehydrating effect on the body.
- Ditch the contact lenses. Switch to your glasses on smoky days to avoid further eye irritation.
- Check in with your doctor if necessary. If you have heart disease or lung disease or an infant, talk to your doctor about whether and when you should leave the area.
Hopefully the wildfires will be out soon enough. In the meantime, please use common sense and take necessary precautions to stay healthy. Zenergy offers a full schedule of indoor fitness classes that can keep you healthy and fit without the added smoke exposure. As an added benefit, we have installed charcoal filters in all the air handlers. This helps remove the smoke particles and impurities to ensure that you are breathing the best possible smoke-free air inside the club.