Wildfires and your health

SALT LAKE CITY — Brian Bennion of the Weber-Morgan Health Department visited FOX 13 with some information on precautions you can take to protect your health as wildfire smoke pollutes the air.

• Stay indoors: People living close to the fire-stricken areas should remain indoors and avoid breathing smoke, ashes and other pollution in the area.

• Don't count on a dust mask: Ordinary dust masks, designed to filter out large particles, will not help. They still allow the more dangerous smaller particles to pass through. Special, more expensive dust masks with true HEPA filters or an N-95 will filter out the damaging fine particles, but are difficult for people with lung disease to use. Consult with your doctor before using a mask, especially if you have a lung disease.

• Take precautions for kids: Extra precaution should be taken for children, who are more susceptible to smoke. Their lungs are still developing and they breathe in more air (and consequently more pollution) per pound of body mass than adults.

• Roll up your car windows: When driving your car in smoky areas, keep your windows and vents closed. Air conditioning should only be operated in the "recirculate" setting.

• Put air conditioners on recirculate: Stay inside as much as possible, with doors, windows and fireplace dampers shut and preferably with clean air circulating through air conditioners and air cleaners. Use air conditioners on the recirculation setting to keep from pulling outside air into the room.

• Don't exercise outside: If you live close to or in the surrounding area, don't exercise outdoors, especially if you smell smoke or notice eye or throat irritation.

Current air quality condition in Weber County can be found on the Utah Department of Environmental Quality website: http://air.utah.gov/currentconditions.php?id=o2