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Smoke, ash and extreme heat can create health issues
August 7, 2018

With the recent wildfires and all the smoke and ash, it could be a real problem just trying to take a breath of fresh air. Unhealthful air can be a serious health hazard, especially for youngsters and the elderly, and anyone who copes with respiratory issues such as asthma.

Read on for some tips to keep you safe and cool in these extreme conditions:

--Drink plenty of water. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Alcohol in particular may cause you not to realize when the heat has become unsafe.

--Turn on your air conditioner and stay in an air-conditioned space at home, or someplace cool like the mall, a library, senior center or Cool Center. Air conditioners not only cool the air, they filter it.

--Schedule outside activities before noon or in the evening. 

--Avoid or minimize physical exertion when smoke and ash are around. The small toxic particles can get deep within your lungs and sometimes even cross into the blood. Rest in shade or a cool place when you can.

--Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose clothing.

--Wear a wide-brimmed hat, or use an umbrella for shade.

--Don’t eat heavy meals.  Avoid cooking with your oven.

--Take a cool shower or bath.

--Don’t linger in a hot car, even for a short time. Get the air conditioner on when you’re driving. Never leave a person or animal alone in a vehicle, even for a second, and particularly during high temperatures.

 --Check on your friends and neighbors who are elderly or have medical conditions.

Older people are at higher risk for problems when it’s very hot. People with heart or circulatory disease can also be at unusually high risk. If you fall in these categories, find a safe, cool place to be.

If you’re feeling weak or dizzy, or have headache and muscle aches, and getting to a cool place with fluids isn’t helping, you may have heat stroke. Call for help right away, or 911 if your symptoms are severe.

Riverside University Health System – Public Health wants your best health! Visit us on Twitter @rivcodoc or Google +.  And be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website at www.rivcoph.org.