4 Tips to Help You Breathe Easier During Wildfires

Tree landscape with large smoke clouds coming from a fire

A couple of years ago, I remember the news of a huge dust storm — a haboob — in Phoenix. If you don’t remember this or haven’t seen it, check out this clip from YouTube:

It looks like something out of a sci-fi flick just before the aliens invade.

Now, imagine being in that when you have asthma, emphysema or chronic bronchitis. What about living near forest fires? These are issues people in the West face every year, and people with breathing difficulties have to be extra cautious.

For the haboobs, experts suggest everyone should limit their exposure to the haboob by staying inside. If you do have to get out into it, wear a mask or cover your nose and mouth with a damp cloth.

Forest fires are similar to haboobs in that fine particles are distributed through the air. Even people living miles away from the fire could feel the effects of smoke. Asthma sufferers should pay particular attention to their breathing. Some suggestions from the American Lung Association include:

  • Stay inside as much as possible. Keep doors, windows and fireplace dampers shut. If you have one, use an air cleaner to circulate the air, or set your air conditioner to recirculate the air.
  • If symptoms kick up, you should get in touch with your doctor or follow your asthma action plan.
  • If you have to go outside, take a damp cloth with you and breathe through it. It can help filter the particles that are floating in the air.
  • Remember to call your doctor if any of your breathing symptoms are not relieved by medications or if you develop a persistent cough or difficult or painful breathing.
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