Wildfire and Respiratory Health Flyer for Clients
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The Wildfire and Respiratory Health Flyer was developed by an intradepartmental workgroup of staff who serve clients with respiratory health issues. Staff came together in a workshop on wildfire risk and health equity. Subsequently, they developed these client-centered recommendations to prepare our clients and their families before smoke impacts worsen. Included are tips for what to do in case of an air quality emergency.
Quick tips for clients and the public on how to prepare before there is a wildfire and ways to protect your health when it’s smoky outside.
- It’s Smoky Outside! Stay Safe from Smoke
- Wildfire Season is Here: Are You Prepared?
- It’s Smoky Outside! Take steps to protect your health
Climate Change is real and affects health in many ways. If you see or smell smoke in the immediate area, limit or avoid outdoor activity, including exercise. This particularly applies to children and older adults, people with breathing or heart issues, such as asthma, and pregnant individuals.
Bay Area residents impacted by wildfire smoke are advised to:
- Stay indoors with windows and doors closed, where air quality is better.
- Keep indoor air cool or visit an air-cooling center.
- Set home and car ventilation systems on re-circulate to prevent drawing in outside air.
- Stay hydrated by drinking water.
- Limit or avoid outdoor recreational and sports activities.
- Use an air filter, especially if there are household members with heart disease, asthma or other respiratory conditions, or elderly persons and children.
- Avoid using wood-burning stoves or fireplaces, lawn mowing, leaf blowing, burning candles and incense, barbecuing, smoking.
- If possible, leave the affected area for the duration of a heavy smoke event.
- Using a Mask
There is no clear evidence that N95 respirator masks used by the general public is beneficial to a person's health during a poor air quality event, and they can actually make it harder to breathe.
- N95 masks or higher are a last resort, for people without access to safer indoor filtered air.
- Some specific masks (N95s or higher) may be helpful for those who must be outdoors for long periods, but they must fit well and provide a tight seal around the wearer's mouth and nose to be effective.
- N95 masks require a tight seal to work, thus may not protect men with beards or young children.
- Persons with chronic breathing or heart issues or other medical conditions, should check with their health care provider before using an N95 mask, as they can make breathing more difficult.
- Bandanas (wet or dry), paper or surgical masks, or tissues held over the mouth and nose will not protect from wildfire smoke or small particulate matter in the air.
- See guidance and images from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Alameda County Health Care for the Homeless
Check this site for resources and services and list of links to Winter Shelters
- Bay Area Air Quality Management District
For forecasts of local Air Quality Index (AQI) levels