Wildfires and Children’s Lungs

With recent wildfires in the area you may be wondering what this means for your children. The smoke from wildfires contains a mixture of gasses as well as fine particles of burnt material. These can irritate your eyes, nasal passage, as well as your lungs.

Children’s airways are still developing and are much smaller than adults, and therefore are at a higher risk to be affected by poor air quality. Children breathe in more air per pound of body weight and they also tend to be more active which also leads them to breath in more air.

via Krem

via Krem

When the air quality is poor it is important to avoid going outside. If this is not possible, limit the amount of activity that is done outside. Anytime your child runs and plays, they begin to breathe faster, leading to more exposure of the dirty air to their sensitive developing airways.

Keep windows and doors shut. Make sure to run the air conditioner on the recirculate setting to prevent the dirty air from coming inside. A simple mask is not helpful. The small particulates that are present in the smoke are small enough to be allowed through a paper mask. It is also important to keep track of the air quality index where you live. You can check this out at www.spokanecleanair.org to find out the current air quality.

Symptoms of exposure to wildfire smoke can include runny nose, burning eyes, cough, shortness of breath, and nausea. If your child has asthma make sure to have their rescue inhaler available at all times since the smoke can trigger an asthma exacerbation. If any of these symptoms persist or don’t improve after going inside and resting, please seek medical care.

by Ashlee Mickelson, Physician

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