Hospitals see rise in visits due to unhealthy air quality from wildfires

ROGUE VALLEY, Ore.– Hospitals are seeing more people coming in across the region related to wildfire smoke, according to health officials.

Epidemiologists said children have been especially impacted by the smoke.

Health officials recommend staying inside as much as possible if the AQI is 100 or higher.

Experts said wildfire smoke is even shown to worsen a common cold.

OHA’s Jonathan Modie said, “we are seeing elevated levels of these illnesses being reported in emergency departments.”

Many parts of Southern Oregon and Northern California are seeing unhealthy air quality due to smoke from multiple wildfires in the region.

Health experts encourage everyone to avoid going outside, especially kids, teenagers and older adults.

“When smoke levels are high, not running the vacuum, avoiding using anything that burns in the house,” Modie said, “don’t smoke, because smoking puts more pollution in the air.”

Health officials also recommend using a HEPA filter to clean the air inside your home.

You can even make a DIY filter using a furnace filter and a box fan.

If you must go outside, doctors recommend picking a time when the AQI is lower.

Valley Immediate Care’s Medical Director Mona J. McArdle said, “when the smoke is bad, that’s anything over 100, people probably should be using that N95 outside. Unfortunately, our regular surgical mask which a lot of us used during COVID, is not protective against wildfire smoke particles.”

Klamath County Public Health said staying hydrated is also important to keep your lungs healthy right now.

Paying attention to the weather forecast and visiting websites like the DEQ or can also help you stay updated on current conditions.

“Make sure that if you have asthma you have your inhaler,” Klamath County Public Health’s Valeree Lane said, “make sure that you’re up to date with your medications if you need to take them. Working with your health care team is really important during this wildfire season.”

Pets are also susceptible to unhealthy air.

Rogue Valley Humane Society is encouraging people keep their pets inside, especially if they have underlying conditions.

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Former NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
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