The Health Effects of Smoke Exposure: What You Need to Know
No one ever plans to be exposed to potentially toxic smoke. When it does happen, it can raise a whole series of questions about the health effects that may manifest as a result of the exposure – especially if there are chemicals involved.
Inhaling smoke of any type should always be avoided, but if you find yourself in a situation where you’re unable to remove yourself from the smoke, here are some guidelines that you can put into play to protect yourself as much as possible until the threat has been contained:
- Limit your outdoor activity. In fact, when you stay inside you should also make sure that your windows and doors remain closed as much as possible since airborne particulates can drift in.
- Keep an eye on family members, pets, or anyone in your household who may be at risk for chronic breathing conditions. If you notice any symptoms involving a cough, the inability to breathe, chest pain, or sudden and excessive fatigue, you should seek immediate medical care.
- A dust mask may help. Ordinary dust masks from big-box stores are designed to filter out large particulates and not the finer partials that are often present in smoke exposure. If you want to make sure that you are most protected in a smoke-related incident, use a dust mask that has a filter rating of N-95 or N-100.
After the Fire
Remember to use caution when cleaning up. If you live near enough to the exposure that it results in clean-up efforts for your house or property, remember to use caution. Even if the fire has been put out, the ashes, dust, and soot that it created in and around your home can contain health-damaging particulates. Your best practice is to use a damp rag and cover your face.