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As Wildfires Spread, Smoke Inhalation becomes Larger Concern

The Town of Hay River has recently received a full evacuation order due to the ongoing wildfires in the nearby area. That fire is likely to spread smoke to other surrounding communities, having a negative impact on air quality.

The air in the north was already seeing some negative impact due to the fires currently raging in Alberta, and it is expected to get worse for those who live around Great Slave Lake.

Smoke inhalation can have many negative effects on various people. those who are most at risk include children, the elderly, and individuals who have heart or lung conditions. Asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysemas, and cognitive heart failure are all conditions that can be made exponentially worse by inhaling smoke from wildfires. Anyone who is performing strenuous work outdoors are also more susceptible, since their heavy breathing takes in more air. Risks increase when smoke becomes heavier and as the length of time a person is exposed increases.

Some of the side effects of smoke inhalation include sore eyes, tears, coughing, and a runny nose. There can be greater side effects if the smoke is particularly heavy, or if it stays in the air for weeks on end. It can cause lung problems, and a longer-lasting cough.

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To avoid smoke inhalation, the best method is to simply stay away from the smoky areas. Stay indoors, and make sure all windows and doors are closed. Those who have access to a central air conditioning make sure that it is on and working properly, as it will filter out all of the harmful particles in the air. Similar tips apply to anyone who is driving; keep the windows closed, and keep the AC on to filter the air. It is also recommended to avoid using wood stoves, gas stoves, and even candles.

Smoke inhalation can become serious enough that medical assistance is required. If a person is experiencing a persistent cough, shortness of breath beyond usual circumstances, a tight chest or other chest pain, or significant weakness and fatigue, it is recommended to reach out to a health care provider.

True North FM will have more coverage on the Hay River Wildfire situation as it develops.

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