Official Public Health Alert
From: Dr. Jacqueline Grant, District Health Director
Date: May 15, 2007
Re: Health recommendations related to wildfire smoke
Albany, GA – With predictions that the intensity of wildfire activity in South Georgia and North Florida will remain high in the immediate future, Southwest Health District is providing health recommendations to residents likely to be affected by smoke.
Infants, children, pregnant women, older adults and people with chronic heart or lung disease, such as asthma, are considered at greatest risk from breathing smoke from wildfires. The risks grow greater when those at-risk are physically active.
With more than 37 wildfires involving nearly 300,000 acres in Georgia, and more than 200 wildfires involving 90,000 acres in Florida, outdoor air quality within the district has been affected. If residents are outside and smell smoke or see a haze, then it is likely smoke or particle pollution readings are elevated and precautions should be taken, the Southwest Health District advises.
Symptoms associated with smoke and/or particle pollution may include irritation of eyes, nose and throat; headaches; coughing; fatigue; chest pain; palpitations; shortness of breath; wheezing and aggravated asthma. Problems can begin a short time after breathing in smoke and without warning. Those with heart or lung disease who experience any of the symptoms should consult their healthcare provider immediately. Also, bear in mind that wildfire smoke contains allergens such as poison ivy, sumac and oak, which can cause unpleasant reactions.
During an incident of high smoke or particle pollution levels, Southwest Health District recommends
- Limiting outdoor activity and remaining in an air-conditioned environment.
- Leaving the area until the smoke has cleared if you do not have air conditioning or if smoke is likely to get into your residence.
- Avoiding vigorous activity both indoors and outdoors.
- Delaying vacuuming when possible to avoid stirring up particles already within your home.
- Do not rely on dust masks, bandanas or other cloths, even if wet, to protect you from smoke.
- Contact your medical provider if you are concerned about possible exposure affecting your health.
- Stay alert to news coverage or health warnings related to smoke.
For more information about the wildfire situation in Georgia, visit www.gema.state.ga.us
For further information about health issues related to wildfires, contact your local health department.