Be alert for possible health effects from smoke

Bryceville wildfire (Photo courtesy: Tom Loveless)
Bryceville wildfire (Photo courtesy: Tom Loveless)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The smoke from wildfires can cause problems from stuffy noses to sinus and allergy issues. If the smoke is heavy enough, there could be difficulty breathing, with wheezing and coughing, particularly for people with asthma and young children with smaller airways. 

"If it's recommended you evacuate, you must evacuate, because that means the air quality is poor enough that it really can cause damage to your airways," said pediatrician Vandana Bhide. "If you have to stay in that area, you would try to be indoors. If you have air conditioning, turn it on. You don't want the fresh air coming in, so you seal your windows."

If smoke gets into your lungs, it can create an infection or cause permanent damage.

"In wildfires, you have a lot of small particles. Other times there's very toxic things like carbon monoxide that can accumulate," Bhide said. "Pay attention to coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, chest pains and then confusion from a lack of oxygen."

Reach out for help if you experience any of these symptoms. If no one is around that can help, call 911.