4 Things to Protect your Lungs from Wildfire Smoke

Summer is barely upon us, but already the skies of northern Canada have turned blood red from the raging wildfires in Alberta. 10,000 people have already been evacuated and 16 homes destroyed.

On Wednesday, May 29th, 2019 Western Canada (specifically Northern Alberta) turned red with a fire that stretched 580 square miles. Furthermore, the Alberta government said that hot, dry and windy conditions fuelling the northern wildfires aren’t going away soon. Fighting these fires are going to be difficult, therefore in the interim people need to get serious about preparing themselves.

This fight is going to be a tough one,” said Devin Dreeshen, Alberta’s minister of agriculture and forestry. “The weather is not co-operating for the long-distance forecast for the next two weeks. It’s more of the same. Shifting winds are causing the smoke to drift and most of Alberta will be impacted by this smoke in the coming days,” Dreeshen said.

Click here to watch the aerial footage of the Northwest Alberta Wildfires.
Environment Canada has issued a special air quality statement for the capital. Alberta and announced warning that people might experience coughing, throat irritation, headaches, or shortness of breath. Moreover, children, seniors, and those with heart and lung disease were said to be at special risk. Smoke Conditions Alberta Wildfire

Source: Discover Magazine

As seen on Google Earth, the smoke from the fires has actually spanned the entire North American continent from east to west. Smoke from the fires enveloped points south, including Edmonton, in an acrid haze that limited visibility and made it difficult to breathe. The thick smoke turned otherwise blue skies an eerie grey-orange across Alberta.

The smoke has also drifted into five states in the U.S.— Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington State, and Wyoming. Air quality in three Montana cities were rated as "unhealthy" on Friday morning.

Smoke is a huge factor in this challenge for not only for health reasons but for the wildland firefighters on the ground. The loss of visibility makes it extremely difficult to use air support.” As stated by Dresheen, this situation has led to a very dangerous health situation for members of the public.

Image Credit: Globe & Mail

Then, how do we prepare to protect our lung from wildfire smoke?

1. Reduce the amount of time spent in smoky areas and avoid vigorous outdoor activities.

2. Do not rely on ordinary dust masks for protection.

    Hardware stores commonly provide paper ''comfort" or "dust" masks. Those masks work to trap large particles, such as sawdust. These masks will not protect your lungs from smoke. Instead, respirator is what needed to filter air. These must fit snugly, to successfully protect against wildfire smoke. People who do not properly wear their respirator may gain a false sense of security.

    To learn how to select the correct size respirator, please click here. Respirator will provide excellent protection against wildfire smoke when it is in the correct size and fit.

    For more information about effective masks, see the Respirator Fact Sheet provided by CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

    3. Eat food that is rich in vitamin E.

    Vitamin E is rich with antioxidant which is good to against free radical damage from the wildfires smoke and it is good for skin too! Also, vitamin E is essential for the immune system, blood vessel health, and keeping the skin youthful. You can find vitamin E in sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, spinach, kiwi and avocado.

    4. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and encourage others to drink water as well – especially children and the elderly.

    When we are hydrated, we’ll be able to cough out the particle much easier. In addition, it helps to keep the normal amount of mucus in the nose which helps to filter the particulates entering.

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