Wildfire Health Concerns, Preparedness and Safety

With the heat and humidity of the summer months, wildfire season has returned throughout the western United States. Along with destruction of property, the smoke from these wildfires can cause poor air quality issues and major health concerns.

At our core, Boost Oxygen is a health company – and we are deeply concerned about the air quality and health problems caused by these wildfires as their intensity and magnitude increase each year. We feel it’s important to share articles, tips and resources for our readers who might be impacted by the wildfires and health issues from the poor air quality.

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Photo by Marcus Kauffman on Unsplash

The Health Concerns From Wildfire Smoke

Many cities and towns are being covered in a thick haze of smoke from wildfires that is causing headaches, dizziness, nausea and respiratory health issues. Poor air quality can mean less Oxygen in the air. The air we normally breathe contains only 21% Oxygen - the majority is 78% Nitrogen. For people with pre-existing breathing problems, the situation can be extremely dangerous and sometimes life-threatening. Many people are also being forced to stay indoors to avoid the horrible air quality. But even then, the poor air and smoke can eventually make its way inside a home.

Related Article from the 2020 wildfires: Headaches and hospital visits as wildfire smoke blankets the U.S. West https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-wildfires-pollution/headaches-and-hospital-visits-as-wildfire-smoke-blankets-the-u-s-west-idUSKBN2671MV

The situation hit close to home last year for Boost Oxygen Digital Marketing Manager Mike Grill, who lives with his family in the Portland area. Mike provided us with the below video of his neighborhood, which was covered in smoke from nearby fires. According to Mike, he experienced breathing issues and headaches from the poor air quality.

Our Rocky Mountain Regional Manager Elle Westphal also discussed wildfires and poor air quality in the Colorado area during an appearance on TV8 Summit:

 

How To Deal With Wildfire Smoke Health Problems

4 Wildfire Smoke Health Problems and How To Deal With Them

https://www.futurity.org/wildfire-smoke-health-problems-2592902/

The above article points out that many communities were ill-prepared for the 2020 wildfires, and experts are trying to educate people as quickly as possible to avoid the same scale of destruction and health problems this year. From the article:

“The health effects of wildfire smoke are well-documented in research by Kari Nadeau, director of Stanford’s Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy & Asthma Research, and Mary Prunicki, the center’s director of air pollution and health research.

In a March Stanford symposium on wildfire in the West, Nadeau described the 200-plus toxins that shroud the air during a wildfire, highlighting particulate matter and soot balls as main offenders. But any of the products one normally finds under the kitchen sink—including Drano, dishwasher fluid, cleaning supplies, and soap—also contribute to the problem, Nadeau says. “This all gets up in the air—microplastics, volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, and any kind of nitrogen oxide species.” Once released, the toxins can easily enter the lungs, presenting a whole host of health concerns.”

We STRONGLY ENCOURAGE our readers to read the entire article, as it is VERY INFORMATIVE.

Here are some important points from the article:

- The number of smoky days in California and the West due to wildfire is increasing drastically, Nadeau said during the wildfire symposium, with some parts of the region seeing an average of over 140 days per year of poor air quality.

- Track the air quality in your area using several websites and apps that provide information (more on those below).

- If you live in an area with wildfire smoke, try to stay indoors. But if you have to go outside, wear a mask.

- For your home, buy a portable air monitor, air purifiers and clean any air filters you might have. However, don’t wait until last-minute. When the 2020 wildfires happened, many stores in the western U.S. ran out of air purifiers. Plan ahead! You can read more about the proper air purifiers to purchase in the article. (Note: Purifiers with HEPA filters are ideal) 

One other important tip from the article: “Change your air filters, and if you can’t purify your entire residence, set up a clean air room,” she suggests. In other words, rather than trying to filter the whole house, focus on maintaining healthy air quality in one room. Reducing the volume of air that a purifier must filter goes a long way in lowering concentrations of smoke particles.”

Wildfire Preparation, Safety And Resources 

The website READY.GOV has an AMAZING section about wildfire preparedness, safety and other resources. Launched in February 2003, Ready is a National public service campaign designed to educate and empower the American people to prepare for, respond to and mitigate emergencies, including natural and man-made disasters. The goal of the campaign is to promote preparedness through public involvement. 

Visit ready.gov/wildfires to get all the information!

The READY.GOV wildfire section includes:
Recognize Warnings and Alerts
Making an Emergency Plan
Strengthen your Home
Know your Evacuation Zone
Gathering Supplies
Staying Safe During The Fire
Safely Returning Home After a Wildfire

Online Resources To Track Wildfire Updates 

After the 2020 wildfires, online resources and apps to track wildfires and weather became extremely important. Thankfully, there are several easy sites and apps you can use daily to keep track of wildfires, extreme weather and even poor air quality. We recommend visiting some of these websites and bookmarking them if you live in an area that is at risk for wildfires:

https://www.airnow.gov/

https://www.iqair.com/us/

https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/

https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2020/weather/wildfire-and-air-quality-tracker/

Additional articles to read:

- “I had 5 minutes to evacuate from a California wildfire. Here's what I learned.”

https://www.sfgate.com/california-wildfires/article/fire-evacuation-orders-what-to-take-preparation-16309505.php

If you had to evacuate your home, do you have a plan? What if you only had 5 minutes? Someone who went through an emergency evacuation shares some very important advice!

- “What's Needed To Manage Wildfires: Are We Adapting To The Growing Threat?”

https://www.npr.org/2021/07/10/1014985815/whats-needed-to-manage-wildfires

NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben speaks with Scott Stephens, professor of wildfire science, about the ongoing threat of wildfires as much of the western U.S. continues facing extreme heat. How are we adapting since 2020? What needs to improve?

Note: Boost Oxygen IS NOT a substitute for doctor prescribed medical-grade Oxygen. Our portable 95% Pure Oxygen canisters can provide immediate respiratory support, but our product does not treat or cure breathing conditions that require treatment from a doctor. If you are experiencing breathing issues due to wildfires, please contact your doctor right away or seek immediate medical treatment at a hospital

Topics: oxygen levels supplemental oxygen portable oxygen low oxygen normal oxygen level health information & research news & updates air quality air pollution

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Written by Bill Banks