Department of Health issues warnings related to wildfire smoke

The Florida Department of Health in St. Johns County issued a news release Thursday to warn residents about the health effects of wildfire smoke as a respiratory irritant, which can cause scratchy throat, coughing, headaches or irritated eyes and nose. Smoke can also worsen asthma, and other chronic lung or heart conditions. Dust generated from increased wildfire response activity on dirt roads may also worsen these conditions.


Other tips from the DoH include:

• Pay attention to local air quality reports, news coverage or health warnings related to smoke.

• Avoid prolonged outdoor activities. This is especially important for children and persons with pre-existing medical conditions.

• Keep indoor air as clean as possible. Stay indoors and run the air conditioner. Keep windows and doors closed as much as possible. Keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent bringing additional smoke inside. For best results, run the air conditioning with recirculated air. If you do not have an air conditioner, staying inside with the windows closed maybe dangerous in extremely hot weather. In these cases, seek alternative shelter.

• Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution. When smoke levels are high, try to avoid using anything that burns such as wood fireplaces, gas logs, gas stoves and candles. Do not vacuum, which stirs up particles already inside your home. Do not smoke.

• Follow your doctor’s advice about taking medicines and following the individual asthma management care plan if you or a loved one has asthma or other lung disease. Call your doctor if symptoms worsen.

• If you have to be outside being prepared is key. Be mindful of the air quality conditions where you will be spending time outdoors. Stay tuned to special advisory warnings for the area. Note that wearing a special N95 or P100 respirator mask can help protect against fine particles found in smoke. Paper or surgical masks are not effective in preventing inhalation of smoke.

• Pets can experience eye, respiratory tracts, skin and other body systems irritates. Keep pets indoors as much as possible during this time. Call your veterinarian if your pet experiences any symptoms.

• It is important to use caution if you are outdoors during the evening and overnight hours to avoid excessive intake of smoke pollutants.