Smoke smell across CSRA

May 16, 2007

EVANS, Ga.---Columbia County EMT Director Pam Tucker tells News 12 that smoke from the south Georgia/north Florida wildfires is rolling across our area due to regional wind patterns. Viewers have seen and smelled the smoke all morning.

Tucker says the National Weather Service expects the winds, which are currently coming out of the southeast, to shift to west-southwest, which could move most of the smoke a little to the east of the CSRA.

Tucker added that due to a cold front tomorrow that is expected to bring winds from the northeast, we shouldn't have any smoke tomorrow.

Wildfire Fact Sheet

from the Georgia Division of Public Health

The Southeast Health District and your local health department ask residents to take necessary precautions to avoid health problems related to the smoky conditions caused by the current wildfires.

Smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and other plant materials. Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases.

How to tell if smoke is affecting you

Smoke can cause:

• Coughing
• A scratchy throat
• Irritated sinuses
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain
• Headaches
• Stinging eyes
• A runny nose

If you have heart or lung disease, smoke might make your symptoms worse.
People who have heart disease might experience:

• Chest pain
• Rapid heartbeat
• Shortness of breath
• Fatigue

Smoke may worsen symptoms for people who have pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as respiratory allergies, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), in the following ways:

• Inability to breathe normally
• Cough with or without mucus
• Chest discomfort
• Wheezing and shortness of breath

When smoke levels are high enough, even healthy people may experience some of these symptoms.

Know whether you are at risk

Those at risk include:

• If you have heart or lung disease, such as congestive heart failure, angina, COPD, emphysema, or asthma, you are at higher risk of having health problems than healthy people.
• Older adults are more likely to be affected by smoke, possibly because they are more likely to have heart or lung diseases than younger people.
• Children are more likely to be affected by health threats from smoke because their airways are still developing and because they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults. Children also are more likely to be active outdoors.

Protect yourself

• Stay inside with windows and doors shut.
• Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car.
• If you do not have an air conditioner and if it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed, seek shelter elsewhere.
• Avoid cooking and vacuuming, which can increase pollutants indoors.
• Avoid physical exertion.
• Asthmatics should follow their asthma management plan.
• Keep at least a five-day supply of medication on hand.
• Contact your doctor if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath, or severe fatigue. This is important not only for people with chronic lung or heart disease, but also for individuals who have not been previously diagnosed with such illnesses. Smoke can “unmask” or produce symptoms of such diseases.
• Keep airways moist by drinking lots of water. Breathing through a warm, wet washcloth can also help relieve dryness.

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