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Wildfires can threaten your immediate safety if you are in an active fire and evacuation area. Smoke from wildfires often carries toxic irritants that can trigger asthma attacks and lung health problems. Winds spread the toxic smoke across the country.
Exposure can cause chest pain, a fast heartbeat, wheezing, and an asthma attack, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Besides coughing and trouble breathing, many people have symptoms similar to those caused by a sinus infection or allergies. Headaches, sore throat, itchy eyes, a runny nose and feeling tired are common.
The elderly, pregnant women, children and people with chronic heart and lung diseases are at higher risk. So are individuals who work outdoors. Talk with your doctor about how to prepare for the smoke if you are at risk.
As wildfires create more and more smoke, it’s important to take simple steps to reduce exposure to smoke and ash particle pollution:
Keeping your home air quality safe is important:
If you have chronic lung health issues, the American Lung Association encourages you to check in with your doctor before you make any changes to your care plan. Your doctor will want to consider changes to your medicine, mask or oxygen use based on the air quality in your area and how you are feeling.
There are many resources in Montana available for understanding the risks to your health and what you can do to minimize health problems. These include:
Originally published 8/26/2020; Revised 2021, 2023
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, a Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association
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