Hazardous Air

Parts of Northern California are currently experiencing poor air quality due to fires throughout our region. Smoke from wildfires creates unhealthy air. Everyone should follow basic precautions to stay healthy. People who have respiratory conditions like asthma and COPD need to be extra careful.

Follow basic precautions for wildfire smoke and poor air quality:

  • Check air quality reports and use common sense. Air quality can change quickly. If it’s smoky, avoid outside activities.
  • Stay indoors as much as possible. Close doors and windows.
  • Set your car air conditioner to recirculate air instead of drawing in outside air.
  • Consider going somewhere with better air quality if you have symptoms from smoke that aren’t getting better.
  • Have a plan for where you’ll get care if needed, if you evacuate or leave the area. Video and phone appointments are a convenient and effective option for many care needs. Learn more about video visits.

There are some important differences between masks that protect you from smoke (N95 masks) and those that protect you and others from COVID-19.

  • Adults may benefit from using an N95 mask if they have one and must be outdoors. This helps protect you from unhealthy air. Masks must be fitted properly. Masks and cloth face coverings that help slow the spread of COVID-19 aren’t effective for smoke.
  • We don’t recommend children wear N95 masks. They aren’t made for children and may not fit properly. They won’t protect them from smoke. Masks and cloth face coverings can also obstruct breathing in babies and young children.  It’s best to keep children indoors to reduce smoke exposure.

If you have a respiratory condition like asthma or COPD, smoke can make symptoms worse or cause a flare up. In addition to the basic precautions above, be sure to:

  • Follow your asthma action plan.
  • Use your daily asthma and COPD medicines, and any allergy medicine.
  • Watch for symptoms, such as wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing.

If you have an asthma or COPD flare up:

  • Use your daily asthma and COPD medicines, and any allergy medicine.
  • Use your quick-relief medicine (albuterol) as needed.
  • Try not to panic. Timely treatment at home may help prevent serious breathing problems.

Thanks to Kaiser Permanente for providing this information.

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