September 6, 2011
With fires burning through many areas of Texas, smoke can pose a serious health threat, especially for children, older adults, pregnant women and those who have chronic heart or lung disease, such as asthma.
Smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees, structures and plants. Heavy, lingering smoke can irritate eyes, respiratory systems and worsen symptoms from pre-existing conditions.
State health officials urge people to reduce their risk from wildfire smoke by taking the following precautions:
- Stay indoors or limit outdoor activities as much as possible.
- Avoid physical exertion.
- Keep windows and doors of your home shut.
- If you have air conditioning, run it with the fresh-air intake closed. Set wall units to “re-circulate.”
- Reduce other sources of indoor air pollution, such as cigarette smoking, burning candles, frying food and using aerosol products or fireplaces.
- Do not use vacuum cleaners which can stir up dust already inside your home.
- Keep your airways moist by drinking plenty of water.
- Consider leaving the area or going to a shelter until smoke conditions improve.
Common symptoms of smoke exposure include coughing, scratchy throat, irritated sinuses, shortness of breath, chest pain, headaches, stinging eyes and runny nose.
People should seek medical help if they have symptoms that worsen or become severe. Those without air conditioning should watch for signs of heat exhaustion such as fatigue, nausea, headache and vomiting.
(News Media Contact: Carrie Williams, Press Officer, 512-776-7119)
DSHS Press Office on Twitter