Health department issues smoke safety warning, tips

This June 23, 2017, file photo shows smoke from the Brian Head Fire, Iron County, June 23, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Color Country Fire Interagency, St. George News / Cedar City News

ST. GEORGE — With extreme fire weather, hot temperatures and red flag warnings issued multiple times over the last two weeks, the Southwest Utah Public Health Department released health and safety tips Sunday.

So far this year, nearly 28,000 fires have burned more than 2.5 million acres. Currently, 18 large fires are actively burning across the country, including three that continue to burn in Utah, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

The Southwest Utah Public Health Department released a statement encouraging residents to be aware of health impacts from wildfire smoke, which contains fine particles.

One indicator that smoke has reached levels that pose a greater health risk is if visibility in the neighborhood has decreased to less than 5 miles, said David Heaton, public information officer for the health department.

These fine particles in wildfire smoke can cause burning eyes, running nose, scratchy throat, headaches and bronchitis and can worsen chronic heart and lung disease, Heaton said. Refraining from outside activities is suggested.

People who are at greater risk include older adults, pregnant women, children, those who have asthma and those who have a heart or lung condition.

Wildfire smoke protection tips 

  • Keep doors and windows closed and run an air conditioner with the filter clean and fresh-air intake closed to keep inside air free of smoke.
  • Running a swamp cooler can pull smoky air into the house. If heat becomes an issue, consider a portable swamp cooler or seeking alternative shelter.
  • Refrain from burning candles, smoking or vacuuming, which can add to indoor pollution.
  • Follow physician’s advice about medications and respiratory management if asthma or another lung disease is present.
  • Consider evacuating the area if you are having trouble breathing. Call for further advice if your symptoms worsen.
  • Dust masks provide no protection from the small particles found in wildfire smoke.
  • Evacuate if instructed by local officials. Follow designated evacuation routes and bring only essential items.
  • Pay attention to local TV and radio reports, along with official social media sources for up-to-date information for the area.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.



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