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Anchorage Fire Department
Saturday June 17th, 2017 :: 07:00 a.m. AKDT

Community

Wildfire Smoke and Your Health

With smoke from the East Fork Fire on the Kenai Peninsula drifting into Anchorage last night, it is a good time to review not just your family disaster preparedness and evacuation plans, but also the health risks associated with the smoke.

Smoke from wildfires across the state can easily drift into the Anchorage-area with our constantly changing weather patterns found in Alaska. This smoke contains a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and other vegetation.

People who are Most at Risk from Wildfire Smoke

  • Those with chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
  • Those with chronic cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure.
  • Older adults are more likely to be affected due to increased risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
  • Children are more likely to be affected as their respiratory system is still developing.
How to Decrease Your Risk from Wildfire Smoke
  • Monitor the local news for updates on active wildfires and for health warnings associated with the smoke and safety measures you can take.
  • Monitor local air quality reports. In the Anchorage-area, the Department of Health and Human Services publishes online the Anchorage Air Quality Index Forecast.
  • If you are advised to stay indoors, keep windows and doors closed to help keep the indoor air as clean as possible. Avoid any indoor activities that increase indoor pollution such as burning candles or using the fire place or wood stove. Vacuuming will stir up particles already inside the home.
  • Follow the advice of your doctor or other healthcare provider about your medication use and respiratory management plan if you have asthma or other high risk diseases.
  • Even if healthy, avoid strenuous outdoor exercise as the fine particles in the smoke will irritate your eyes, nose, throat and lungs.  
  • Be sure you have the right type of mask for your protection. Bandanas, paper masks and dust masks are designed to trap large particles and will not prevent the fine smoke particles from entering your lungs. Choose a particulate respirator mask that has the word “NIOSH” and either “N95” or “P100” printed on it. These are sold at many hardware and home repair stores and pharmacies.
Another helpful resource to learn more about health and safety with wildfire smoke is the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s website, Wildfire Smoke Health & Safety – Questions & Answers.

Address/Location
Anchorage Fire Department
100 E 4th Ave
Anchorage, AK 99501

Contact
Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 907-227-9473

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