Spreading Wildfire Forces New Evacuations

Protect-Your-Lungs-From-Wildfire-Smoke

(ModernSurvival.org) – South Lake Tahoe has had a rough summer. Earlier this month, part of the lake was quarantined after chipmunks there tested positive for bubonic plague. Now, residents are facing mandatory evacuation as the Caldor fire continues to expand.

The Caldor fire began wreaking havoc in California on August 14, consuming hundreds of structures in its path. A weekend of high winds and scorching temperatures didn’t help matters. The winds led the fire to begin spotting: sending sparks on the wind, which then started new blazes.

Unfortunately, the Caldor fire isn’t the only active wildfire in the country. At this time, there are over 90 wildfires raging across the United States, according to CNN. While the fires themselves are dangerous, the smoke they release is also incredibly hazardous to a person’s health, even hundreds of miles away from the fires themselves.

Protect Your Lungs From Wildfire Smoke

While some people may think the smoke from a wildfire smells good (campfire, anyone?), it is actually quite dangerous. The smoke is a complex mixture of gases and particles released when materials burn. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the particles are the real danger here, as they can “penetrate deep into the lungs” and cause multiple health problems.

Burning eyes and runny noses are common issues associated with wildfire smoke, but it can also lead to heart and lung diseases. Recent studies show that exposure to wildfire smoke may also lead to premature births. In short, it isn’t a threat to be ignored.

So how can one protect themselves from smoke from a wildfire? Here are some quick tips:

    • Stay Indoors – Keep doors and windows closed. Plug cracks under doors leading outside with wet towels to prevent contaminated air from entering the home.
    • Clean the AirIf possible, run an indoor air conditioner with the outdoor air intake closed. A portable air cleaner is another option that may help. If an air conditioner isn’t available, it may be wise to seek shelter at a location that has one. Being locked inside a home without airflow in hot weather is dangerous.
    • Don’t Pollute the Air – Don’t run a vacuum cleaner (it stirs up dust particles), light candles, or burn any other fuel that may contaminate the air. This includes smoking.
    • Use the Right Mask – While the general consensus is that a cloth mask will help to prevent some illnesses, it will not protect against wildfire smoke. When forced outdoors, N95 masks or better are required to filter out smoke particles.
    • On the Road – In areas where the smoke is particularly thick, it may be better to avoid driving altogether due to low visibility. However, if one does brave the roadways, use the air conditioner in the car with the recirculate function on to prevent smoke from entering the vehicle. Just remember to vent the air every once in a while to prevent a buildup of carbon dioxide.

Wildfire smoke can travel great distances, but it may also be a sign that a fire has erupted in the nearby area. Make sure to listen for emergency warnings and heed mandatory evacuation notices if they’re announced. On that note, if one finds themselves forced to flee from a wildfire, knowing how to escape is key to survival. To see where to go in this situation, check out our article here.

~Here’s to Your Survival!

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