Extreme heat and drought have contributed to wildfires throughout Louisiana, which can negatively impact air quality. LDH is urging residents in areas where wildfires are burning or air quality is otherwise poor to take precautions to minimize the impact poor air quality can have on their health.
The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and State Fire Marshal issued a statewide burn ban on August 7 due to dangerously dry and hot conditions. Hundreds of wildfires are burning across the state, resulting in a dangerous and unpredictable situation. Gov. John Bel Edwards has urged everyone in the state to follow the state burn ban until further notice and refrain from burning anything at this time.
Not everyone exposed to wildfire smoke will have health issues. However, even young, healthy adults can experience serious effects from short-term smoke inhalation. Residents in affected areas and those living outside of the wildfire radius in neighboring parishes should be aware of the health effects caused by smoke and poor air quality and take precautions.
If you suffer from respiratory or cardiac problems and you are in the proximity of a fire, please consult with your doctor. Regardless of health or age, it is vital to have an evacuation plan, whether threatened by actual fire or the effects of smoke.
Ways to stay safe
- Evacuate from the area if you are threatened by fire.
- Pay attention to local air quality reports and stay alert to any news coverage or health warnings.
- If there is an air quality advisory, stay indoors and try to minimize the intrusion of smoke. Keep the windows and doors closed.
- Do not go outside if there is a large amount of smoke outdoors.
- If possible, keep an air conditioner’s fresh air intake closed and ensure the filter is clean.
- If you do not have air conditioning, seek out a local shelter and/or cooling center.
- Air filters and purifiers can help reduce particle levels indoors. The type and size of the air purifiers should fit the size of the room or house.
- Dust masks do not provide protection and will not protect from the smaller particles.
- Check on your loved ones and neighbors, especially older adults.
People at higher risk
- Those with pre-existing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases
- People with heart diseases, such as congestive heart failure, angina or other cardiac problems
- People with lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or asthma
- Older adults with chronic health problems
- People who smoke