Some may ask what causes wild fires besides human error, A combination of strong winds and severe drought conditions led blazes to grow,
But beyond the fire zones, many within the fire zones are facing a secondary, more insidious threat: polluted air, rife with tiny particles small enough to penetrate deep into the circulatory system. Those potentially deadly particles are creating unhealthy air as far as 70 miles away from fire zones, according to Bay Area Air Quality Management District spokesman Tom Flannigan. But people closer to the fire zones are even more at risk, since the air in those regions could also be tinged with toxic heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, copper and lead, as the smoke picks up chemicals from burned-up plastic, cars, and building materials.
The particles within this smoke pose the biggest short-term risk to human health. It’s been extensively proven that high-dose exposure to so-called “fine particulate” pollution, or PM2.5, can trigger death, particularly in people with pre-existing conditions like asthma or heart disease. And breathing in smoke can make anyone—even healthy people—experience chest pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath.
- Don’t try to outrun the blaze. Instead, look for a body of water such as a pond or river to crouch in.
- If there is no water nearby, find a depressed, cleared area with little vegetation, lie low to the ground, and cover your body with wet clothing, a blanket, or soil. Stay low and covered until the fire passes.
- Protect your lungs by breathing air closest to the ground, through a moist cloth, if possible, to avoid inhaling smoke.
- Do so immediately.
- Know your evacuation route ahead of time and prepare an evacuation checklist and emergency supplies.
- Wear protective clothing and footwear to protect yourself from flying sparks and ashes.
- Before You Leave, Prepare Your House
- Remove combustibles, including firewood, yard waste, barbecue grills, and fuel cans, from your yard.
- Close all windows, vents, and doors to prevent a draft.
- Shut off natural gas, propane, or fuel oil supplies.
- Fill any large vessels – pools, hot tubs, garbage cans, or tubs – with water to slow or discourage fire.