As fire season approaches, Mohave County supervisor warns of risk from inhaling smoke
KINGMAN – Last year’s fire season was one of the worst on record for the drought-stricken southwest. The 2021 fire season burned 5.6 billion acres of land in the U.S.
While fires are destructive to the land and buildings in their path, the smoke that comes from the flames can also cause damage and health risks thousands of miles away, according to a news release from Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson of District 3.
“Individuals all the way in New York City saw hazy skies from the fires out in the West,” Johnson stated. “The smoke from these fires can travel thousands of miles and cause health issues for many individuals.”
Smoke is a mixture of gases and fine particles produced when wood and other materials burn. It is considered a fine particulate matter with a PM of 2.5, which is the greatest health concern when it comes to particulates.
“For some, smoke inhalation can be a life-threatening situation,” Johnson said. “This is why it’s important that residents in Mohave County who have respiratory issues such as asthma, COPD, or even heart disease pay attention to the air quality during the summer months. Smoke inhalation, even in small amounts, can lead to irritation, inflammation and shortness of breath, and can worsen existing heart and lung diseases.
According to a 2020 study by the Oregon Health Department, there is a direct correlation between wildfire activity and emergency room visits related to asthma attacks. While no one can predict when or where the next big wildfire will occur, there are steps individuals can take to prepare themselves. Some of those steps include:
– Having a plan for food, water, medication and evacuation. Leaving voluntarily for smoke is sometimes recommended.
– Learn about masks and respirators, like N95s, and have some on hand.
– Obtain a HEPA air cleaner or Do-It-Yourself option. A DYI air cleaner can be made with a MERV13 Box Fan and an air filter.
– Identify a clean air space in your home and community.
– Sign up for air quality advisories through various mobile apps.
– Eat a diet rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids as these foods may reduce air pollution health effects
Johnson said Hualapai Mountain Park currently is operating under a Stage 1 restriction which means fires are allowed in approved rings at developed sites only. To find out the latest fire restrictions in Mohave County, visit: https://bit.ly/3FFTCr6.