William Walker, MD
Contra Costa Health Services
It’s wildfire season and that can mean
smoke-filled skies and air that can pose a
Hello, I’m Dr. William Walker, Director of
Contra Costa Health Services, here to
talk to you about how to protect yourself and
your loved ones from wildfire smoke.
There are thousands of wildfires in California every year. These wildfires
release smoke that can affect the air quality even in places far away from
the fire. The smoky air can have negative and damaging effects on
Anyone can be affected by smoke, but people with respiratory conditions, such
as asthma or lung disease, young children, and the elderly are particularly
at risk, so it’s important to follow instructions if a smoke advisory
has been issued.
Here are some recommendations to protect yourself from wildfire smoke
Avoid outdoor activities and stay indoors
Keep indoor air as clean as possible by closing windows and doors.
If it’s hot, run the air conditioner, but remember to keep the fresh-air intake closed and the
filter clean to prevent smoke from outside getting inside.
If you don’t have an air conditioner and it’s too hot to stay inside, seek shelter somewhere with
air conditioning, such as a shopping mall or library.
When driving, keep car windows and vents closed. If using the car’s air conditioning, set it to re-circulate mode.
Masks also can be used to help protect against smoke but make sure to use a mask called a ”particulate respirator“ that
has ”N95“ on it, and has two straps that go around the head, not the ears.
Signs that smoke is affecting you may include:
coughing, scratchy throat, irritated sinuses,
and shortness of breath. You may also feel chest pain, headaches,
stinging eyes, and a runny nose.
Smoke can aggravate pre-existing respiratory problems,
such as asthma or lung disease. People with
these conditions may also suffer from
chest discomfort, and wheezing or shortness of breath.
If you have heart disease, you may also
experience a rapid heartbeat and fatigue.
People with respiratory or heart conditions should
consider leaving an area if the smoke pollution is heavy.
If any of your symptoms get worse,
call your health care provider immediately.
For more information on how to protect yourself from
smoke pollution, including information on masks,
visit our website at cchealth.org.