Sep 04

How Do the California Wildfires Affect Your Health?

L.A. California Wildfires

California Wildfires, Image by Getty Images via Daylife

When we made the move to Los Angeles for an acting career, we did not anticipate dealing with the California wildfires. But over the last 6 years since we’ve been here, we’ve had to learn how to deal with them.

The Good News — Wildfires Getting Under Control

It is good news that the California wildfires in the Angeles National Forest are now 42% contained (under  control).  The humidity is up, the wind has died down, and the temperatures are a little cooler and heading down.

The slight weather changes should allow the firefighters to continue to make gains in the battle with the wildfires that have been going on for over a week now in the Los Angeles area.

Fortunately, in our area, the air is a little better today than it was yesterday. With the cooler temperatures predicted for the weekend, that trend is likely to continue.

The Bad News

The bad news about the California Wildfires is that over 140,000 acres of the Angeles National Forest have burned, two firefighters have died, people have been injured, people have lost their homes, and the fire is still burning. And even worse, it is believed that the fire is the result of arson. And now there is some talk about there having been some toxic fumes in the air in one of the areas where the firefighters were stationed.

And now there is a new fire South of Los Angeles near Lake Elsinore.

The air quality continues to be extremely poor, and it is not likely to improve much for quite a while.

The threat of additional fires also still remains high, so residents in the L.A. area need to continue to be prepared for evacuation and need to think about the quality of the air they are breathing. (See Are You Prepared for the California Wildfires? for more information.)

Breathing In Smoke and Particles in the Air

Yesterday, when I ventured out to take kids to school, my eyes, nose, and throat were burning, and the windshield was covered in flakes of ash. The whole area was covered in a fog of smoke.

As a parent of a child actor, I am continuing to drive all over the area to auditions and rehearsals and to take care of other tasks related to my child actor’s acting career even with all the smoke and fire nearby.   This is yet another negative of making the move to the L.A. area in pursuit of an acting career for my daughter!

Life still goes on. But the smoke is taking its toll on all of us. We are all suffering with minor symptoms of smoke inhalation, and I am hoping it will get significantly better soon.

I took some time to do some more research on protecting my family from the dangers of breathing in the smoke and ash. I read all about the effects of the California wildfires and how to prevent health problems related to them. I’d like to share what I’ve found with you.

So, “How Are the California Wildfires Affecting Your Health?”  and what can you do about it?

One of the biggest dangers of the California wildfires is the danger of breathing the smoke and ash over a long period of time.  The smog in the L.A. area is not healthy even when there are not wildfires burning. But when you add the smoke and ash to the air, you end up with air that is very unhealthy.

What is the best way to protect yourself from the dangers of smoke inhalation?  Some good sources of information about the effects of smoke and how to protect yourself are listed below:

  1. Respirator Fact Sheet.
  2. How Smoke From Fires Can Affect Your Health.
  3. LA County Updates – to check for emergency status in the LA County area, road closures, evacuation orders, etc., when there are fires or earthquakes or any other disasters. Additional very interesting information is provided here about preparation for evacuation.
  4. CDC Information on Wildfires

Some good sites and good quality products to help filter the smoke and ash from the air and to help protect you from dangers related to fire are listed below:

  1. Small face masks
  2. Air purifiers
  3. Evacuation kits
  4. Heavy-duty masks and respirators

For continuing information about the fires, other events in the LA Area, and other topics on how to become a child actor, subscribe to Your Young Actor’s Newsletter.

To healthier air,

Debbie Sikkema

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  1. Kimba

    As a merchant in the paint business, I make a living selling the respirators you describe in your posting. What you may not know is due to the world wide outbreaks in swine flu, 3m had already put us on rationing for their respirator products. We have had to switch to a competitor in order to have any stock at all, especially in the disposable N95 masks.

    This is not the first time we have experienced supply issues for respirator masks. The outbreak of SARS overseas years ago saw our sales increase ten fold with distributors coming in and buying all store stocks with cash in hand.

    I am afraid a ready household stock of these masks has become a necessary addition to any prudent Southern California first aid / emergency inventory.

  2. Debbie Sikkema

    I did notice that the N95 masks were sold out on a couple of sites I checked. I agree, it is a good idea to have them on hand for both purposes here in CA — for Swine Flu protection and to help when the fires are burning nearby. Thanks for your comments!

  3. catejohn3@buller

    Good Information about the California wildfires affect your health. Its really the pollution which comes from the wildfires are injurious to our health. So, save the people from this wildfires in California.

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    Hi, wild fire is said to be worst case scenario about California. I have watched A news about this wild fire in California last year, and this year 2009, it seems that wild fire is taking action every year. I am just wondering where did this wild fire came, and how it is produced? can you say some explanations.. Hope I can get some explanations from you.. Thank you for this article..

  6. Sarah@Best Acai Berry Product

    I hate these wildfires 😡

  7. monika@ #pizza delivery melbourne

    wild fire was the worst case in california.i heard this news in 2009 itself.it affects our health.it created too much pollution there.

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  14. Margarette @ Self Esteem Affirmations

    During certain times of the year residential debris burning of dead vegetation is allowed. However, homeowners should always check with their local CAL FIRE station and local air quality management agency before burning. In many area burn permits may be require

  15. Daryl Frausto

    Precisely tips i was trying to find. Well put as well.

  16. Enna@Acne

    Naturally occurring wildfires play an integral role in nature. They return nutrients to the soil by burning dead or decaying matter. They also act as a disinfectant, removing disease-ridden plants and harmful insects from a forest ecosystem. And by burning through thick canopies and brushy undergrowth, wildfires allow sunlight to reach the forest floor, enabling a new generation of seedlings to grow.

  17. Claire@Anti Aging

    Wildfires can boost ozone pollution to levels that violate health standards. Ozone in the lower atmosphere can trigger a number of health problems. These range from coughing and throat irritation to more serious problems, such as aggravation of asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema. Ground-level ozone pollution also damages crops and other plants.

  18. Felice@anti aging

    wild fires is very dangerous for our health, not just health but its also dangerous to earth.

  19. Joel@hgh

    There is no impact on the environment. Its like saying the rain will ruin the environment. People forget that fire is as natural as rain. It is part of the natural cycle of the environment. As are invasive species. So how can a natural cycle of the environment hurt the environment?

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  22. Bryanna Mcdonald

    Thanks for this article you’ve enspired me to get my child into shobiz 😛

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  24. Debbie Sikkema

    Hi Bryanna,
    Thanks for commenting. Good luck!

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