I certainly hope that we don't see as many wildfires this year as we had in 2018.  Obviously they cause death and destruction for the immediately affected area, but for people who have asthma or other respiratory conditions, they can cause serious breathing problems even for those hundreds of miles away from the flames.  I have someone in my family whose asthma can be a real problem and there were many days last year where she simply had to stay indoors because the air quality was so poor.

If you or someone you care about has similar challenges, here are the official tips from a recent press release by The American Lung Association:

· Stay inside as much as possible. Close any doors, windows and fireplace dampers shut –Use the recirculation setting on home air conditioners to avoid outdoor air contamination. Avoid exercising outdoors. If you have to travel through smoking areas, close your car windows and vents and set your vehicle’s air conditioning to recirculate.
· Protect the air inside your home. Research shows that air purifiers can help protect your health during a wildfire. Consider using an air purifier that has a HEPA filter to capture harmful particles in your home and circulate air around the whole room to help clear the air in your home from smoke.
·  Don’t depend on a dust mask. Ordinary dust masks will not help. Masks with a HEPA filter or an N-95 will filter out the damaging fine particles in wildfire smoke, but ensure that they fit your face (masks may not fit children). Consult with your doctor before using a mask, especially if you have lung disease, as it may be difficult to use.
· Check with your doctor. If you have any worsening symptoms, check in with your physician about symptoms and your medications. Consult with your doctor before using a mask, especially if you have lung disease.
· Know the air quality in your area. Visit www.airnow.gov or download the AirNow app on your smartphone. Local radio, TV weather reports and newspapers also provide updates.

Visit the American Lung Association's website for more information about this, or anything else related to breathing.

2019 Wildfire predictions are available here.

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