Summer break and family vacations

People look forward to summer. You may be one of them. Families in the Evergreen State plan early for outdoor activities that include picnics, reunions, sports, boating, camping, barbecuing, and loads of water activities in swimming pools, rivers, lakes, and the Pacific Ocean. Sadly, nothing ends the fun as quickly as a wildfire, or the smoke that emanates from them.

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Washington state endured a challenging 2023 wildfire season, with 1,880 wildfires torching 165,365 acres of land, according to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. It was the second highest number of fires on record, even though the vast majority of those – approximately 95% – were kept under 10 acres, according to a public statement by Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.

In addition to the loss of forests, property, and the risk of life to wildlife and humans, smoke from the wildfires creates unhealthy breathing and other medical conditions.

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Photo by Filippos Sdralias on Unsplash
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When irritation turns serious

People living with compromised lung health and breathing issues are the first to suffer, but wildfire smoke impacts everyone.

Even more people suffer from allergic rhinitis, which causes congestion, itchiness, a runny nose, and sneezing. A regular loss of sleep can lead to daytime fatigue, and changes in mood, memory, and even depression or anxiety.

Unchecked allergies can turn into a serious sinus infection, it can drive patients to a local hospital emergency department. “I see severe sinus infections in the ER that start with allergies or breaking smokey air,” says Raul Garcia, DO, an emergency physician with Astria Hospital Toppenish. “When patients feel desperate to find relief, they’re at a higher risk of health sabotaging behaviors like self-medicating or dismissing mental health issues.”

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Decrease symptoms and breathe better

.Thankfully, there are proactive measures you can take to manage your health before wildfire smoke disrupts your daily life.

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Track clean air with an app

.Stay informed about air quality using apps like AIRNow by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It provides real-time Air Quality Index (AQI) ratings and forecasts for your area.

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Keep doors and windows closed

.Despite warm weather, resist the urge to open windows as smoke can infiltrate, compromising indoor air quality.

Sanja Radin
Sanja Radin
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Wear a mask when you need to be outdoors

.When venturing outside, consider wearing a mask. Choose one that fits well and offers adequate protection, based on personal preference and effectiveness.

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kit.com
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Shower and change your clothes when you have been outside

Minimize allergen exposure indoors by showering and changing clothes after being outside, improving indoor air quality and comfort.

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Take allergy medicine, as your physician recommends

If you suffer from compromised lungs or seasonal allergies, consult your physician about using intranasal corticosteroids or antihistamines. These medications can reduce nasal inflammation and mucus production, though discuss their use, particularly if you have diabetes, due to potential impacts on blood glucose levels.

We hope this timely tip are helpful in keeping your family healthy during wildfire season. Please be care in you are enjoying the great outdoors of the PWN. Let's keep the Evergreen state for ever green. Remember Smokey says "Only You Can Prevent Forest and Wildfires."

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