We’ve collected ideas from experts to help protect your lungs as wildfire smoke continues. Here in Minnesota, July reported the worst air quality on record due to smoke drifting down from the wildfires blazing throughout Canada.In fact, many states have been experiencing hazy skies and blocked-out suns, with citizens—especially those with existing respiratory illnesses—have difficulty breathing.
Just as ash from volcanoes erupting in Iceland is carried by winds across the globe, smoke carries as winds shift – watch this animation from NBC showing how smoke moved through parts of the United States.
According to the Mayo Clinic, wildfire smoke contains such “respiratory irritants” as “particulate matter, hydrocarbons, and other organic chemicals.” And according to pulmonologist Dr. Clayton Cowl, chair of the Mayo Clinic Division of Preventive, Occupational and Aerospace Medicine, it’s the ultrafine particles that we inhale deeply into our lungs—while, say, hiking, biking, running, or playing outdoor sports—that pose the greatest health risk.
Children, the elderly, and even your pets your also at risk when wildfire smoke becomes so dense it blocks out the sun.
Here are six ways to mitigate the effects of wildfire smoke and keep your lungs healthy.
- Know the symptoms: Coughing, trouble breathing normally, stinging eyes, scratchy throat.
- Stay indoors with the windows closed, with the air conditioning on and HEPA air filters running.
- Keep car windows rolled up when traveling.
- Consider purchasing air purifiers to put in rooms where you sleep and children play. Choose one with high-efficiency particulate air filters to capture those small, ultrafine particles.
- Exercise inside (try pilates, yoga, or even easy stretching) to move your body without endangering your lungs.
- Watch your favorite weather app or local weather, or follow the US Air Quality Index to know when it’s safe to go back outside.
Find more suggestions from experts here:
- Mayo Clinic podcast: Protecting Yourself from Wildfire Smoke
- American Lung Association: Wildfires
- CDC: Wildfires and Smoke
Suggestions? Send us an email.