Health Concerns

Fire and Smoke Health Concerns
Frequently Asked Questions

Please note, we’re not medically trained, we’re just trying to assist and recommend, so if you want more details and facts please contact your doctor

Q What is the health threat from fires and smoke?
A Smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and other plant materials. Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases.
How can I tell if the smoke is affecting my family or me?

  • Smoke can cause coughing, scratchy throat, irritated sinuses, shortness of breath, chest pain, headaches, stinging eyes, and runny nose.
  • If you have heart or lung disease, smoke might make your symptoms worse.
  • People who have heart disease might experience chest pain, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and fatigue
  • Smoke may worsen symptoms for people who have pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as respiratory allergies, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), in the following ways:
    • Inability to breathe normally
    • Cough with or without mucus
    • Chest discomfort
    • Wheezing and shortness of breath
  • When smoke levels are high enough, even healthy people may experience some of these symptoms.

Q I have a head cold; will I be affected more?
A Most persons who are exposed to thick smoke will not have health problems. The level, extent, and duration of exposure, age, individual susceptibility and other factors play a significant role in determining whether or not someone will experience smoke-related problems. If you are experiencing serious medical problems for any reason, seek medical treatment immediately.

Q How can I protect myself and my family from the harmful effects of smoke?
A The best thing to do is to limit your exposure to the smoke. Specific strategies to decrease exposure to smoke include staying indoors whenever possible, using air conditioners (air conditioned homes usually have lower air exchange rates than homes that use open windows for ventilation), using mechanical or electronic air cleaners, keeping windows closed while driving in a vehicle, reducing physical activity levels, and minimizing other sources of air pollution (e.g., smoking, wood burning stove use, burning candles, and vacuuming).

Q Will I suffocate in my house?
A No. The most common call for evacuation during a wildfire is due to the direct threat of the fire instead of smoke. Leaving the area of thick smoke may be a good protective measure for members of sensitive groups, but it is often difficult to predict the duration, intensity and direction of smoke, making this an unattractive option to many people.
During severe smoke events, clean air shelters can be designated to provide residents with a place to get out of the smoke. These can be located in large commercial buildings, educational facilities, shopping malls or anyplace with effective air conditioning and particle filtration.

Q Will facemasks or dust masks protect me from the smoke?
A In order for a mask to provide protection during a smoke event, it must be able to filter very small particles (around 0.3 to 0.1 microns), and it must fit, providing an airtight seal around the wearer’s face.
Dust masks are not enough. Paper “comfort” or “dust” masks commonly found at hardware stores are designed to trap large particles, such as sawdust. These masks will not protect your lungs from smoke. It is best to stay indoors and limit your exposure to the smoke.

Q What about respirator masks, will they help?
A Some masks (technically called respirators, but they look more like paper masks) are good enough to filter out 95% of the particulate that is 0.3 microns and larger. Smoke particulate averages about 0.3 microns, so these masks will filter out a significant portion of the smoke if they are properly fit to the wearer’s face. These masks, which may include an exhale valve, do not require cartridge filters. They are marked with one of the following: “R95”, “N95”, or “P95.” Soft masks with higher ratings (R, N or P 99 and R, N, or P 100) are also available and will filter out even more particulate.
There are several drawbacks to recommending widespread mask use in an area affected by wildfire smoke. Most people won’t use the masks correctly and won’t understand the importance of having an airtight seal. For instance, it is impossible to get a good seal on individuals with beards. As a result, the masks will provide little if any protection. Masks are uncomfortable, and they increase resistance to airflow. This makes breathing more difficult and leads to physiological stresses such as increased respiratory rates and heart rates.

Q Will a wet towel or bandana provide any help?
A Wet towels or bandanas have the same shortcomings as paper dust masks. We do not recommend that they be used.

Q What should I do if I must drive to work?
A Individuals can reduce the amount of particulate in their vehicles by keeping the windows closed. The car’s ventilation systems typically remove a portion of the particulate coming in from outside. For best results, most cars have the ability to recirculate the inside air, which will help keep the particulate levels lower.

Q Our community has an outdoor game scheduled for this evening, should we cancel it?
A All persons in areas affected by the wildfire smoke are being advised by DEC, public health officials, and local emergency management officials to limit all outdoor activity and stay indoors whenever possible to minimize exposure to the smoke.

Q Do air-purifying machines help with indoor air?

A Air cleaners can be effective at reducing indoor particulate levels, provided the specific cleaner is adequately matched to the indoor environment in which it is placed. However, they tend to be expensive.
Some devices, known as ozone generators, personal ozone devices, “energized oxygen” generators, and “pure air” generators, are sold as air cleaners, but they probably do ore harm than good. Ozone does not remove particles from the air, so would not be effective during smoke events.
Humidifiers are not technically air cleaners and will not significantly reduce the amount of particulate in the air during a smoke event.

Q What should I do about closing up my house when it’s so hot in there?
A If you do not have an air conditioner and if it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed, seek shelter elsewhere.

Q If I have respiratory problems and can’t reach my doctor, where should I go?

A If you have a medical emergency you should call 911 or go the hospital emergency room immediately.

Q What do I bring if I’m told to evacuate my home?

A If asked or instructed to evacuate your home make sure to bring your important family documents (birth certificates, wills, insurance policies, etc) and your family disaster supply kit. Your disaster supply kit should contain enough food, water and supplies to sustain your family for 5-7 days. Don’t forget any medications or special items such as a first aid kit.

Local Weather Alerts

Check for any weather alerts here Flood Warning

Flood Warning
...the Flood Warning Continues For The Following Rivers In Georgia... Oconee River Near Penfield Affecting Clarke...greene And Oconee Counties The Flood Warning Continues For The Oconee River Near Penfield. * Until Late Tonight. ...Read More.
Effective: February 23, 2019 at 3:49amExpires: February 24, 2019 at 4:20amTarget Area: Clarke; Greene; Oconee

Flood Warning
...the Flood Warning Continues For The Following Rivers In Georgia... Sweetwater Creek Near Austell Affecting Cobb And Douglas Counties The Flood Warning Continues For The Sweetwater Creek Near Austell. * Until This Afternoon. * At 3am Saturday The Stage Was 10.6 Feet...and Falling. ...Read More.
Effective: February 23, 2019 at 3:39amExpires: February 23, 2019 at 2:00pmTarget Area: Cobb; Douglas

Flood Warning
...the Flood Warning Continues For The Following Rivers In Georgia... Big Creek Near Alpharetta Affecting Forsyth And Fulton Counties The Flood Warning Continues For The Big Creek Near Alpharetta. * Until Late Tonight. * At 2am Saturday The Stage Was 7.5 Feet...and Falling. ...Read More.
Effective: February 23, 2019 at 3:36amExpires: February 24, 2019 at 2:30amTarget Area: Forsyth; Fulton

Flood Warning
...the Flood Warning Continues For The Following Rivers In Georgia... Oostanaula River Near Resaca Affecting Floyd And Gordon Counties Oostanaula River Near Calhoun Affecting Gordon County Oothkalooga Creek Near Calhoun Affecting Gordon County Armuchee Creek Near Armuchee Affecting Floyd County Oostanaula River Near Rome Affecting Floyd County ...Read More.
Effective: February 23, 2019 at 3:28amExpires: February 23, 2019 at 5:27pmTarget Area: Floyd

Flood Warning
...the Flood Warning Continues For The Following Rivers In Georgia... Oostanaula River Near Resaca Affecting Floyd And Gordon Counties Oostanaula River Near Calhoun Affecting Gordon County Oothkalooga Creek Near Calhoun Affecting Gordon County Armuchee Creek Near Armuchee Affecting Floyd County Oostanaula River Near Rome Affecting Floyd County ...Read More.
Effective: February 23, 2019 at 3:28amExpires: February 23, 2019 at 5:27pmTarget Area: Floyd

Flood Warning
...the Flood Warning Continues For The Following Rivers In Georgia... Oostanaula River Near Resaca Affecting Floyd And Gordon Counties Oostanaula River Near Calhoun Affecting Gordon County Oothkalooga Creek Near Calhoun Affecting Gordon County Armuchee Creek Near Armuchee Affecting Floyd County Oostanaula River Near Rome Affecting Floyd County ...Read More.
Effective: February 23, 2019 at 3:28amExpires: February 23, 2019 at 5:27pmTarget Area: Floyd

Flood Warning
...the Flood Warning Continues For The Following Rivers In Georgia... Oostanaula River Near Resaca Affecting Floyd And Gordon Counties Oostanaula River Near Calhoun Affecting Gordon County Oothkalooga Creek Near Calhoun Affecting Gordon County Armuchee Creek Near Armuchee Affecting Floyd County Oostanaula River Near Rome Affecting Floyd County ...Read More.
Effective: February 23, 2019 at 3:28amExpires: February 23, 2019 at 5:27pmTarget Area: Floyd

Flood Warning
...the Flood Warning Continues For The Following Rivers In Georgia... Oostanaula River Near Resaca Affecting Floyd And Gordon Counties Oostanaula River Near Calhoun Affecting Gordon County Oothkalooga Creek Near Calhoun Affecting Gordon County Armuchee Creek Near Armuchee Affecting Floyd County Oostanaula River Near Rome Affecting Floyd County ...Read More.
Effective: February 23, 2019 at 3:28amExpires: February 23, 2019 at 5:27pmTarget Area: Gordon

Flood Warning
...the Flood Warning Continues For The Following Rivers In Georgia... Oostanaula River Near Resaca Affecting Floyd And Gordon Counties Oostanaula River Near Calhoun Affecting Gordon County Oothkalooga Creek Near Calhoun Affecting Gordon County Armuchee Creek Near Armuchee Affecting Floyd County Oostanaula River Near Rome Affecting Floyd County ...Read More.
Effective: February 23, 2019 at 3:28amExpires: February 23, 2019 at 5:27pmTarget Area: Gordon

Flood Warning
...the Flood Warning Continues For The Following Rivers In Georgia... Oostanaula River Near Resaca Affecting Floyd And Gordon Counties Oostanaula River Near Calhoun Affecting Gordon County Oothkalooga Creek Near Calhoun Affecting Gordon County Armuchee Creek Near Armuchee Affecting Floyd County Oostanaula River Near Rome Affecting Floyd County ...Read More.
Effective: February 23, 2019 at 3:28amExpires: February 24, 2019 at 4:49pmTarget Area: Floyd

Flood Warning
...the Flood Warning Continues For The Following Rivers In Georgia... Oostanaula River Near Resaca Affecting Floyd And Gordon Counties Oostanaula River Near Calhoun Affecting Gordon County Oothkalooga Creek Near Calhoun Affecting Gordon County Armuchee Creek Near Armuchee Affecting Floyd County Oostanaula River Near Rome Affecting Floyd County ...Read More.
Effective: February 23, 2019 at 3:28amExpires: February 27, 2019 at 9:00amTarget Area: Floyd; Gordon

Flood Warning
...the Flood Warning Continues For The Following Rivers In Georgia... Etowah River Near East Canton Affecting Cherokee County The Flood Warning Continues For The Etowah River Near East Canton. * Until Further Notice. * At 2am Saturday The Stage Was 19.9 Feet...and Rising. ...Read More.
Effective: February 23, 2019 at 3:20amExpires: February 23, 2019 at 5:19pmTarget Area: Cherokee

Flood Warning
...the Flood Warning Continues For The Following Rivers In Georgia... Chattooga River Near Summerville Affecting Chattooga County The Flood Warning Continues For The Chattooga River Near Summerville. * Until This Afternoon. * At 2am Saturday The Stage Was 15.8 Feet...and ...Read More.
Effective: February 23, 2019 at 3:08amExpires: February 23, 2019 at 4:45pmTarget Area: Chattooga

Flood Warning
...the Flood Warning Continues For The Following Rivers In Georgia... Conasauga River Near Eton Affecting Murray And Whitfield Counties Coahulla Creek Near Keiths Mill Near Dalton Affecting Whitfield County Conasauga River Near Tilton Affecting Gordon...murray And Whitfield Counties ...Read More.
Effective: February 23, 2019 at 3:03amExpires: February 23, 2019 at 5:03pmTarget Area: Gordon; Murray; Whitfield

Flood Warning
...the Flood Warning Continues For The Following Rivers In Georgia... Conasauga River Near Eton Affecting Murray And Whitfield Counties Coahulla Creek Near Keiths Mill Near Dalton Affecting Whitfield County Conasauga River Near Tilton Affecting Gordon...murray And Whitfield Counties ...Read More.
Effective: February 23, 2019 at 3:03amExpires: February 23, 2019 at 5:03pmTarget Area: Whitfield

Flood Warning
...the Flood Warning Continues For The Following Rivers In Georgia... Conasauga River Near Eton Affecting Murray And Whitfield Counties Coahulla Creek Near Keiths Mill Near Dalton Affecting Whitfield County Conasauga River Near Tilton Affecting Gordon...murray And Whitfield Counties ...Read More.
Effective: February 23, 2019 at 3:03amExpires: February 25, 2019 at 12:37amTarget Area: Murray; Whitfield

Flood Warning
...the Flood Warning Continues For The Following Rivers In Georgia... Conasauga River Near Eton Affecting Murray And Whitfield Counties Coahulla Creek Near Keiths Mill Near Dalton Affecting Whitfield County Conasauga River Near Tilton Affecting Gordon...murray And Whitfield Counties ...Read More.
Effective: February 23, 2019 at 3:03amExpires: February 26, 2019 at 5:17amTarget Area: Gordon; Murray; Whitfield

Flood Warning
...the Flood Warning Continues For The Following Rivers In Georgia... Lookout Creek Near New England Affecting Dade And Hamilton Counties ...flood Warning Extended Until This Morning...the Flood Warning Continues For The Lookout Creek Near New England. ...Read More.
Effective: February 23, 2019 at 2:57amExpires: February 23, 2019 at 11:28amTarget Area: Dade

Flood Warning
...the Flood Warning Continues For The Following Rivers In Georgia... West Chickamauga Creek Near Fort Oglethorpe Affecting Catoosa And Hamilton Counties The Flood Warning Continues For The West Chickamauga Creek Near Fort Oglethorpe. * Until Sunday Afternoon. ...Read More.
Effective: February 23, 2019 at 2:55amExpires: February 24, 2019 at 4:00pmTarget Area: Catoosa

Flood Warning
...the Flood Warning Is Extended For The Following Rivers ... South Chickamauga Creek Near Chickamauga Tn Affecting Catoosa And Hamilton Counties Clinch River Near Speers Ferry Va Affecting Grainger...hancock And Scott Counties French Broad River Near Newport Tn Affecting Cocke And Jefferson ...Read More.
Effective: February 22, 2019 at 9:13pmExpires: February 24, 2019 at 1:00amTarget Area: Catoosa

Waycross Ware Co. GA
61°
haze
humidity: 88%
wind: 8mph E
H 63 • L 61
81°
Sun
64°
Mon
71°
Tue