Wildfire Smoke: How to Protect Yourself From Wildfire Smoke
Dry conditions in much of Malaysia increase the potential for wildfires in or near wilderness areas. Stay alert of wildfire warnings and take action to protect yourself and your family from wildfire smoke.
The Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department (JBPM) recorded a total of 8,427 cases of open fires involving forests, orchards, bushes and rubbish from January to March 14
When wildfires burn in your area, they produce smoke that may reach your community.
Wildfire smoke is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and other plant materials. This smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases.
Who is at the greatest risk of wildfire smoke?
- People who have heart or lung diseases, like heart disease, chest pain, lung disease, or asthma, are at higher risk from wildfire smoke.
- Older adults are more likely to be affected by smoke. This may be due to their increased risk of heart and lung diseases.
- Children are more likely to be affected by health threats from smoke. Children’s airways are still developing and they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults. Also, children often spend more time outdoors engaged in activity and play.
Prevent it from happening by:
- Check local air quality reports. Listen and watch for news or health warnings about smoke.
- Consult local visibility guides. Some communities have monitors that measure the number of particles in the air.
- Keep indoor air as clean as possible if you are advised to stay indoors. Keep windows and doors closed. Run an air conditioner, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside. If you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed, seek shelter in a designated evacuation center or away from the affected area.
- Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution. Burning candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves can increase indoor pollution. Vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home, contributing to indoor pollution. Smoking also puts even more pollution into the air.
- Prevent wildfires from starting. Follow local regulations if you burn trash or debris.
- Follow the advice of your doctor or other healthcare providers about medicines and about your respiratory management plan if you have asthma or another lung disease. Consider evacuating if you are having trouble breathing. Call your doctor for advice if your symptoms worsen.
- Do not rely on dust masks for protection. Paper “comfort” or “dust” masks commonly found at hardware stores are designed to trap large particles, such as sawdust. These masks will not protect your lungs from the small particles found in wildfire smoke.
- Evacuate from the path of wildfires. Listen to the news to learn about current evacuation orders. Follow the instructions of local officials about when and where to evacuate. Take only essential items with you. Follow designated evacuation routes–others may be blocked–and plan for heavy traffic.
- Protect yourself by cleaning up after a fire. Clean-up work can expose you to ash and other products of the fire that may irritate your eyes, nose, or skin and cause coughing and other health effects. Learn how to protect yourself from ash.