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How best to avoid the hazy, smoky air and stay cool in the heat wave

Posted on Sep. 5, 2017 ( comments)
The sky near Tacoma General Tuesday, Sept. 5.

Almost all of Washington is "awash in wildfire smoke," according to the state Department of Ecology.

The smoky air present throughout our region is coming from wildfires burning throughout the state.

An outdoor burn ban has been in effect since Friday, Sept. 1, in northwest Washington. The ban applies to all outdoor burning, such as campfires.

The heat is only making conditions worse. What do doctors recommend?

“I would recommend staying inside,” says David Ricker, MD, medical director of pulmonary programs at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Health Center. “If you must go outside, it’s better to avoid any kind of strenuous activity.”

For anyone with asthma or chronic respiratory illness, Dr. Ricker says to make sure you are using your prescribed medications (such as inhalers) to help with any irritation or difficulty breathing caused by the poor air quality.

Jillian Weissman, MD, MS, a physician at MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care in Tukwila, recommends seeking medical treatment if you experience new or worsening symptoms not relieved by your medications.

What about the heat?

It’s important to be hyper-vigilant about checking on infants, toddlers and the elderly, who are especially susceptible to heat stroke, a dangerous condition with a high mortality rate.

Heat stroke is very rare, and also avoidable — but can be deadly if it’s missed in someone. Signs and symptoms of heat stroke, when body temperature can exceed 104 degrees, include confusion, delirium and even seizures.

Here are tips for staying cool and avoiding heat stroke:

  • Stay hydrated, and make sure your children and pets are, too
  • Keep an eye on the most at risk, such as children, the elderly and disabled
  • Look out for symptoms, such as dizziness, fatigue and nausea
  • If you or a loved one experiences these symptoms, lie down and drink cool water
  • Never leave children or pets in the car on a hot day
  • Avoid strenuous activity

Movie theaters, local malls and libraries are all good places to go to beat the heat — and the smoky air.

If you or your loved one is experiencing worsening symptoms from the smoky air or heat, seek medical treatment. Find an urgent care or your nearest emergency department.

About The Author

Roxanne Cooke Roxanne Cooke

Roxanne Cooke is our senior content editor and manages Vitals and Kite Strings. She tells stories in words, pictures and video. You can reach her at [email protected]

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