PEMCO Insurance: Tips for handling wildfire smoke

SEATTLE- There seems to be no escaping the effects of wildfires.

In last three years, a majority of people living in the Pacific Northwest say that they have been bothered by the poor air quality, caused by fires in our area.

According to the experts at PEMCO Insurance, this might be a new reality.

With the potential for more fires this summer, PEMCO is offering tips for people who might be susceptible to the smoky conditions:

  1. PEMCO experts say to minimize your exposure, you might want to limit your time outdoors.
  2. Consider postponing yard work or any strenuous activities like running.
  3. Get a mask to filter out the smoke. Experts suggest getting one with a respirator and an 'n-95' or 'p-100' marking. Make sure it fights tight.

"When you start out, pay attention to how you feel,” said Harris Clarke with PEMCO. “Masks can make you more prone to overheating and dizziness, in which case, you`ll want to pull it off. Also, a scratchy throat, itchy eyes and mild cough are normal during poor air quality. If your cough won`t go away or you feel shortness of breath, unusually fatigued or tightness in your chest, you want to get that checked out."

PEMCO also stresses the importance of keeping a close eye on your children. Their lungs are developing and could be more vulnerable to unhealthy air conditions.

Along with watching how you feel outside, you can take steps to prevent smoke from getting into your home.

The experts at PEMCO say keep your windows closed and close the fireplace flue. If you have air-conditioning or a furnace, be sure set it on re-circulate and change your filters. If you don't, a portable air-filter might help. PEMCO experts also suggest vacuuming less- this prevents kicking up smoke particles that may be inside.

The air quality in western Washington is in the 'moderate' category, but, that could change if we see a spike in the number of fires in our state and the Pacific Northwest, like last summer.

In June, the city of Seattle announced plans to upgrade air filtration systems in some buildings and community centers. Officials say these locations will provide a safe place for residents in the event of extreme, smoky conditions.

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