SBCMS News

Health Officer issues smoke advisory from Holy Fire



San Bernardino County Health Officer Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare advises county residents with sensitive health conditions who live near areas affected by the Holy Fire to stay alert to changing smoke levels and be prepared to act accordingly.

The Holy Fire is burning to the east of Trabuco Canyon near the border of Orange County and Riverside County within the Cleveland National Forest. Although the fire is burning in surrounding counties, conditions may bring smoke into portions of San Bernardino County.

Smoky conditions can be hazardous for young children, the elderly, individuals with heart conditions or chronic lung disease such as asthma and bronchitis, and individuals with other respiratory ailments. Older adults and children should remain indoors, keep windows and doors closed or seek alternate shelter. 

Individuals with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and other lung or heart diseases should make sure they have at least a five-day supply of medication on hand. Individuals with asthma should consult their physician about an asthma management plan and stick to it during unusually smoky conditions. Listen for radio and television messages about fires in your area. 

What to do if there is smoke present:

  • Stay inside with windows and doors shut.
  • Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car. It will be easier to breathe indoors if air is recirculating instead of drawing smoky air from outdoors.
  • Avoid cooking and vacuuming, which can increase pollutants indoors.
  • Avoid physical exertion.
  • Contact your doctor if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath, or severe fatigue. This is important not only for people with chronic lung or heart disease, but also for individuals who have not been previously diagnosed with such illnesses. Smoke can “unmask” or produce symptoms of such diseases.
  • Drink lots of water to keep airways moist. Breathing through a warm, wet washcloth can also help relieve dryness. 
  • A fitted mask (OSHA N95) can be used to reduce smoke exposure unless it interferes with breathing. A dust mask is generally ineffective with smoke.

For more information on avoiding health impacts from smoke, see the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Wildfire Smoke & Ash Health & Safety Tips page at: http://www.aqmd.gov/wildfire-health-info-smoke-tips. To subscribe to air quality alerts, advisories and forecasts by email, go to http://AirAlerts.org.

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