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4 Tips To Help You Breathe Easier During Wildfires

Nature is an amazing thing and something you probably shouldn’t ignore. One remarkable example are the huge dust storms—haboobs—that happen during the monsoon season in Arizona, but for people with breathing troubles, they can be dangerous.

If you’re unfamiliar with what a haboob is, you might be shocked by just how big they can get. For example, this massive dust storm from a years ago engulfed Phoenix. If you don’t remember or haven’t seen it, check out this clip from YouTube:

It looks like something out of a sci-fi flick just before the aliens invade.

But, amazing weather phenomena and other things that affect air quality can cause serious problems for people with difficulty breathing. Imagine being in a haboob when you have asthma, emphysema or chronic bronchitis. What about living near forest fires? These are issues people in the West face every year, and people with breathing difficulties must be extra cautious.

For the haboobs, experts suggest everyone should limit their exposure to the haboob by staying inside. If you have to go outside, wear a mask or cover your nose and mouth with a damp cloth.

Forest fires are like haboobs in that fine particles are distributed through the air. Even people living miles away from the fire could feel the effects of smoke. Asthma sufferers should pay attention to their breathing. Some suggestions from the American Lung Association include:

  • Stay inside as much as possible. Keep doors, windows and fireplace dampers shut. If you have one, use an air cleaner to circulate the air, or set your air conditioner to recirculate the air.
  • If symptoms kick up, you should get in touch with your doctor or follow your asthma action plan.
  • If you must go outside, take a damp cloth with you and breathe through it. It can help filter the particles that are floating in the air.
  • Remember to call your doctor if any of your breathing symptoms are not relieved by medications or if you develop a persistent cough or difficult or painful breathing.

This post was originally published on May 7, 2014. It has been updated.

Pulmonology and Asthma Wellness
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