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The dangerous health risks that could follow the Californian forest fires



The Californian forest fires, which have already caused so much death and destruction, continue to blaze, with the number of casualties and casualties constantly updated. The New York Times reports that the largest – the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, in Butte County, Northern California – has become the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in state history.

At least 63 people were killed by the campfire, 200 are still missing and the death toll is expected to rise, according to the Times . The fire has already burned 130,000 hectares and 8,800 buildings (most of them houses) and is only 35 percent included. The Woolsey Fire has burned over 97,000 hectares west of Los Angeles and is only 40 percent contained.

In addition to unimaginable deaths and devastation, these forest fires are affecting the health of those who now fight for these fires and flee years will come. And so you can help.

Large forest fires affect civilians in the vicinity (and not so near) on the flames.

The health effects are generally more pronounced the closer you are to the fire. Where the smoke is most concentrated, the frontlines are most at risk. But "this smoke will go where physics dictate," says Thomas Welle, a former fireman and head of the Denver Field Office in the Wildfire Division of the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) (SELPA). Large fires can affect the air quality of the environment up to hundreds of kilometers away, says Gene Gantt, director of the California Fire Brigade Association who has over 35 years experience in the fire department, versus SELF. "So this affects the entire public in the whole state."

Forest fire caused by the burning of trees and plant life, a mixture of gases and tiny particles, may cause respiratory irritation according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (Think about how uncomfortable you feel after a few minutes of smoke from a tiny campfire on your face, Gantt points out, but immeasurably worse.) Common symptoms include cough, nasal discharge, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, wheezing, and watery, itchy eyes or pain in the eyes says Gantt. Headaches and tiredness are also not uncommon. "Maybe you're feeling [you] in a terrible cold," says Gantt.

This smoke can aggravate pre-existing health problems, which is why people with heart disease, lung disease, asthma, and chest pain are at greater risk for problems, according to the CDC. Children who develop airways and inhale more air pounds weigh body weight, are also at increased risk. Gantt also says older people and pregnant women should be extra careful.

When you are in the area, you can take common sense precautions to minimize your exposure to smoke.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends, if possible, temporarily moving, using indoor space, using HEPA-filtered air purifiers, buying respirators, and reducing physical activity. (You can check your local air quality here .)

If you are worried about an existing health problem or think that the fire makes you uncomfortable, have it checked. "Our recommendation for all is that you visit your local doctor just to get a baseline about where you are," says Gantt.

But the best way to be sure is to be prepared for the fire, says Welle. "When the call comes, you have to go, follow the instructions of the local authorities and make sure you and your families and your pets," he says. "That can make a big contribution to reducing stress."

The health risks to which firefighters are exposed are increased both in the short and long term.

Firefighters can experience all the above symptoms by inhaling smoke a very serious degree due to the intensity and duration of their exposure. They usually work in 12-hour shifts and are on site for two to three weeks, says Wille.

While fighting the fire, the unbelievably high temperatures of the air and the smoke they breathe Gantt says it causes irritation, pain and damage to the lungs and respiratory tract of firefighters. (You could also avoid dangers such as falling trees and weather conditions, adds Welle.) And while you imagine firefighters with special protection, the reality is that the self-contained respirators used by firefighters in structural fires are too heavy and inefficient Gantt are explained for any kind of prolonged use in a forest fire situation.

So most firefighters rely on Bandanas and respirators which filter out large particles, but smaller ones do not block them out. In addition, they tend to clog and hinder breathing rather quickly.

However, the risks or poor quality of the air remain around the clock, explains Welle, as the units usually set up a base camp nearby – far enough away from the fire to be safe, but close enough to bus or truck -Feuerwehrleute. "They sleep, eat, take a shower near the smoke, so they are constantly exposed," says Welle. Many firefighters also find that they do not have time to shower and wash their equipment between shifts (while they also have time to eat and sleep), so the smoke can stay on the skin and clothing for extended periods of time.

Then there are carcinogenic gases. When homes and buildings start to burn, as is the case in California, the materials inside can – detergents, furniture and appliances made of plastic, diesel tanks – produce toxic gases and carcinogens. According to Gantt, there is also the possibility that asbestos is released from the foundations of older homes. "Firefighters are the ones who are in the middle of everything breathing."

The other health effects may only be apparent after years.

"My great concern is the long-term effect You will see firefighters over the next five or ten years," says Gantt. While many of the reported associations between firefighting and a range of health issues are not well established, Gantt notes that he is concerned, however, by the disease of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer and adult asthma fires today. These long-term data are particularly hard to grasp. For many, forest firefighting is seasonal work, explains Welle, and cross-sectional studies require a long-term study of the same population. Experts know (and study more) that firefighters experience different types of cancer at higher rates, according to the CDC .

Like other first responders – police, paramedics – firefighters also have an increased risk of mental health problems according to the Administration of Drug Abuse and Psychiatric Services (SAMHSA). This is sensible in view of the high stress and trauma that they experience daily and in such crises. "Firefighters are vulnerable to PTSD," says Welle. "It can not affect you directly, but there are certain things that come back to you." Gantt adds, "If you're doing a body search, this is the community you're living or working in – which is what many of these guys do – that's really tough."

These traumatic events may affect the […] course, even the mental health of survivors of the disaster
"People are losing neighbors, houses and pets and they are worried about people who may be missing," says Welle. "All this stress alone can be really difficult."

Anyone in need can contact the SAMHSA Emergency Hotline [1945952] (19459052).

It's normal to feel helpless in the face of a natural disaster, but there [19659028] there are a number of sensible ways to help.

  • Give the American Red Cross food and shelter to those displaced by the fire.

  • Find a cause by GoFundMe that has set up inventory pages of verified campaigns for local groups – including first aid assistance . You also have a Direct Impact Fund to make sure your donation goes directly to the individuals or charities of the affected communities.

  • If you live in Ventura, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego, or Butte Counties, you can sign up at Airbnb to open your home for people who need a temporary abode.

  • Give money to the California Fire Foundation which will redeem your donation on $ 100 gift cards that direct the firefighters victims to the ground under their program "Aid for Emergencies" (SAVE) exhibit.

  • Donated to the Wildfire Relief Fund of the California Community Foundation to support interim and long relief and recovery efforts nationwide.

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