For some of us, the idea of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day would be the equivalent of choosing to walk into a den of hungry lions with nothing more than a butter knife to protect us, that’s never going to happen, ever! But what happens when you get pushed into the lions den against your will with no means to protect yourself? Chances are you are going to get eaten. Welcome to the den of wildfire smoke!
According to Mike Flannigan of the University of Alberta, “breathing smoke from a wildfire can be equivalent to smoking up to two packs of cigarettes a day, depending on the density….it’s worse than we thought.” Professor Flannigan compared wildfire smoke to “chemical soup” that can be trapped in the lungs and cause a number of health issues. He further states, “There are all kinds of particles, mercury, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane…there’s a whole long list. Depending on the size of the particles, they get trapped in the lungs, accumulate over time and cause all kinds of problems.”
Professor Jennifer Horney, PHD, of epidemiology and member of the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware had this to say. “Just think about all the chemicals people keep in their garages, pesticides, paint, you name it – and when those things burn, along with everything else, you’re breathing in the product of all that combustion.”
So, what can be done to keep you from the teeth and claws of ravaging wildfire smoke.
- Sign up for air-quality alerts at AirNow.gov
- Try to stay indoors, no jogging on smokey days
- Run your household air conditioner on the fresh air
- Don’t vacuum every day which stirs up dust
- No wood stove burning, candles, cooking with heavy
grease, or cigarette smoking inside
- If you must go out, wear dust masks or surgical masks
In closing, it is the hope of the editor that you never have to face losing your home to wildfire, but if you do, heed all safety warnings and be cautious about sifting through wreckage as fine particulate matter may still be floating around. Stay Safe…!