The thick smoke and pollution produced by the wild fires raging nearby can have a particularly severe effect on infants and children with underlying respiratory illnesses and breathing difficulties such as asthma, warned Steven Snodgrass, M.D., medical director for the GHS Children’s Hospital Division of Pediatric Pulmonology.
Special precautions should be taken by parents, families, schools, and healthcare providers caring for these children and patients. Outdoor exposure should be limited in these patients, especially if already battling normal colds and illnesses this time of year during cold and flu season. Requests from parents and caregivers to skip recess and other outdoor activities should be honored. The recommendation is the same for athletes participating in outdoor activities who may be susceptible due to underlying conditions.
Even when indoors, the windows should be closed if possible to limit exposure to outdoor pollutants. Keep fresh-air intakes closed and filters clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside. Activities that increase indoor pollution should be avoided, such as vacuuming, which can stir up dust and other indoor particulates. Burning wood in fireplaces, burning candles or using gas stoves should also be limited.
Monitor air-quality reports and adjust your or your family’s outside time as necessary. (Get up-to-date reports by visiting https://airnow.gov/index.cfm. Type in your zip code and state for localized information.)
Monitoring of regular asthma symptoms and other respiratory symptoms is especially important. Aggressive sick management – for example, using extra albuterol or as—needed treatments for acute symptoms that are not experienced every other day when well –should be in place to limit worsening of chronic conditions.
Patients and families should consult their healthcare providers and subspecialists related to their asthma management as needed and for any questions that arise.
Given that the duration of this situation is unclear, precautions and aggressive measures for prevention of worsening illnesses should be taken in schools, homes and the general community.