It’s not abnormal for Central Oregon to experience smokey skies during the summer months but this year’s conditions are extreme. We’re seeing complaints ranging from sore throats and burning eyes, to full blown asthma attacks. Now is not the time to play outdoors, although that’s our normal recommendation this time of year. Now’s the time to go inside and stay there.

Smoke from wildfires contains particles and chemicals that can irritate the eyes, nose throat and lungs. Kids under seven years old tend to breathe in more air per pound of body weight and their lungs are still developing. Take more precautions with young ones.

To combat these conditions, families need to shelter in their homes with all windows and doors shut tight. If you don’t have air conditioning, sit in front of the fan and play some games, read or watch a few cartoons. Since we don’t have high humidity like some parts of the country, the fan’s air moving around us is actually cooling and comforting due to evaporation of the sweat on our skin.

If you do have air conditioning, make sure the fan feature on your home system is running to ensure the air is being filtered. Replace your filter if it’s old and replace it again after this season to keep those nasty particulates out of your home. HEPA filters may be effective for people with airborne allergies.

Today is a great excuse to not do much physical activity. We all can use that kind of down time now and then. It’s also a great time to slow down and connect with family – parents, you can use this event to “force” kid-bonding over that family game that hasn’t been used in years.

Those with severe allergies or asthma may need to relocate to another area with family or friends until this situation is past. Make sure you have an adequate supply of prescription medicines (more than 5 days) and make sure you bring them with you at all times in case you need to relocate.

In addition, asthmatics should have a written asthma action care plan. If you don’t, call your primary care provider during office hours as long as your symptoms are well controlled. Start rescue meds at the first sign of any coughing. Be sure to call back in this medicine is needed more than every 4 hours or if symptoms become more severe than mild coughing, wheezing occurs or general conditions decrease.

At all times, COPA patients can call our 24-hour Nurse Advice Line to discuss your child’s situation. We want to hear from you if your child is feeling discomfort at a level that worries you. COPA is open 7 days a week, including weekends, and late into the evening during the weekdays. We’re here when you need us the most, and you should always feel free to call us if we can help you.

Take care of yourselves. “Winter is coming”.