Health care officials: High temperatures and wildfire smoke could pose health risk


The Orange County Health Care Agency is advising that higher temperatures are anticipated through the weekend in many Orange County cities, increasing the risk of heat-related illnesses.

In addition, agency officials say smoke from the San Diego County wildfires could pose an added risk for some residents, noting that the South Coast Air Quality Management District has issued a Smoke Advisory for Orange County.

[UPDATE at 2:30 p.m.: The AQMD is indicating that the air quality in Irvine continues to be moderate, meaning “Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people. For example, people who are unusually sensitive to ozone may experience respiratory symptoms.” You can continue to track the air quality for Orange County on this interactive map.]

“Everyone should take precautions to stay cool and drink plenty of water to reduce health risks related to the heat and wildfire smoke,” said Dr. Eric Handler, county health officer. “Additional precautions are especially needed for older adults, those with preexisting medical conditions like heart or lung disease, those with disabilities, children, and those who may be working outdoors.”

Here’s some other useful information from the HCA:

Heat Related Illness Signs & Symptoms:

  • Symptoms of heat exhaustion may include:  heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, headache, nausea or vomiting and dizziness.
  • Warning signs of heat stroke may include: extremely high body temperature, unconsciousness, confusion, hot and dry skin (no sweating), a rapid, strong pulse, and a throbbing headache.
  • If symptoms of heat stroke occur, immediately call for medical assistance. Move the person to a shady area and begin cooling their body with water.

Precautions to Prevent Heat Related Illnesses:

  • Drink plenty of water. Don’t wait until you are thirsty.
  • Never leave children, elderly people or pets unattended in vehicles.
  • Stay cool indoors. If your home is not air conditioned, visit public facilities such as shopping malls and libraries to stay cool.
  • Check often on those at high-risk. This includes older adults, people with heart or lung disease, and young children. Be sure to check on your neighbors.
  • Avoid unnecessary sun exposure. Wear light, loose-fitting clothing, a hat, and use sunscreen.
  • Avoid unnecessary exertion outdoors. Take frequent rest and refreshment breaks in a shaded area.
  • Provide shade and extra water for your pets.

Precautions to Reduce Health Effects of Wildfire Smoke:

  • Avoid any vigorous outdoor or indoor activity.
  • People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children should remain indoors.
  • Keep the windows and doors in your home closed.
  • Use your air conditioner on the re-circulate mode, if available, to limit the intake of outdoor air and keep your home comfortable.
  • Keep your airways (nose and mouth) moist by drinking extra amounts of water. This helps your body filter out potentially harmful particles in the smoke.
  • Seek medical attention if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath, or severe fatigue.

 

For more information on heat-related illnesses, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websiteFor information about the South Coast Air Quality Management District Smoke Advisory, visit the AQMD website.