How to stay healthy amid fire season in SWFL

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As brush fires across the state begin to spread, so do health concerns.

What started as a prescribed burn on Sunday quickly turned into a 6,000-acre brush fire in the Picayune Strand State Forest. The flames were 60 percent contained as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the Florida Forest Service.

Anyone who is close enough to smell the smoke billowing from the flames can put their health at risk, doctors said.

MORE: Ready, set, go: Planning, preparation tips ahead of fire season

“The combustible products from these fires are a mixture of gases and particulates and they’re very irritating to the lungs because they’re very small, microscopic they’ll get down deep in the lungs,” said Dr. Charles Klucka.

Collier County resident Donovan Smith knows what it’s like to face a raging fire after flames nearly wiped out his wildlife reserve in 2017.

“I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life and it was like smoking 50K cigs in 10 min,” Smith said.

Klucka suggested tips for people who suffer from conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease:

  • If you’re driving in the area of a brush fire, turn on the car’s air conditioner and recirculate the air.
  • If you begin to cough, eyes begin to have a burning sensation, and chest begins to tighten then visit your doctor as soon as possible.
  • If you suffer from asthma, keep your medication and rescue inhaler with you at all times.
  • Air filtration masks are recommended.


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