Holy Smokes

Two-dozen fires and over 250,000 acres are burning throughout Washington and Oregon according to Sunday’s report in The Seattle Times.

Residents of the Columbia Basin have noticed the change in air quality, with smoke clearly visible. The Department of Ecology has classified current air quality as “very unhealthy” in nearby Okanohan County, Quincy, Moses Lake, Leavenworth, and Ellensburg.

If you find yourself coughing, sneezing, short of breath, or fatigued, you’re not alone. Wildfires cause gas and fine ash particles to be released in the air, which cause irritation if inhaled.

Be Aware of Symptoms

The National Institute of Environment Health Sciences suggest there are many negative health effects related to poor air quality. The amount and length of smoke exposure can increase your risk of symptoms.

Watch for these symptoms, and if they become severe, visit your nearest CBHA location for immediate care.

  • Watery, dry eyes
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Shortness of breath or asthma attacks
  • Throat, lung, or sinus irritation
  • Irregular heartbeat or chest pain
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue

Protect Your Health

People with chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular or lung disease are more likely to experience serious health effects. Children and elderly populations are also at higher risk.

As smoky conditions continue, CBHA advises protecting yourself by:

  • Staying indoors when possible
  • Avoiding strenuous activities that cause heavy breathing or increased heart rate
  • Closing windows and doors to reduce smoke particles in your home
  • Setting air conditioners to recirculate air
  • Using air filters
  • Rolling up car windows and using in-car air conditioning
  • Wearing protective masks or scarves when outdoors
  • Clearing your home of allergens
  • Limiting tobacco use and other smoke inhalation

For more information about health risks or to make an appointment with a physician, contact CBHA at 509-488-5256.