The Coastal Health District is asking residents to take precautions to avoid health problems related to the smoky conditions caused by the current wildfires in Georgia and Florida. The Coastal Health District includes Effingham, Chatham, Bryan, Liberty, McIntosh, Glynn, Long and Camden counties.
Smoke from wildfires can cause coughing, a scratchy throat, irritated sinuses, shortness of breath, chest pain, headaches, stinging eyes and a runny nose. Smoke may worsen symptoms for people ho have heart or lung disease, or other pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as respiratory allergies, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. When smoke levels are high enough, even healthy people may experience some of these symptoms.
As long as smoky conditions persist, or if you are bothered by the smoke in the air, the Coastal Health District urges you to:
-Limit your exposure to smoke.
-Stay indoors, with the windows and doors closed unless it is extremely hot outside. Run an air conditioner if you have one, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside.
-Do not add to indoor pollution. When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns, such as candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves. Do not vacuum, because vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home.
-Do not smoke, because smoking puts even more pollution into the air.
-If you have asthma or another lung disease, follow your doctor's advice about medicines and about your respiratory management plan. Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen.
-Dust masks are not enough. Paper "comfort" or "dust" masks commonly found at hardware stores are designed to trap large particles, such as sawdust. These masks will not protect your lungs from smoke.
-Contact your doctor if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath, or severe fatigue.
-Keep airways moist by drinking lots of water. Breathing through a warm, wet washcloth can also help relieve dryness.
-Postpone outdoor events.
If you have any questions or concerns, call your healthcare provider.
Additional information is also online at www.gachd.org under the "Current News" heading on the front page.