Take Precautions During Unhealthy Air Quality – What you can do.

November 16, 2016

Haywood Regional Medical Center (HRMC) wants to urge everyone to take precautions while Haywood County is labeled as having unhealthy air quality due to WNC forest fires.

According to the North Carolina Air Quality Forecast Center many areas of our region have been labeled as having harmful air quality. Smoke from the WNC wildfires contains 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. Children, elderly and anyone with a respiratory or heart condition should take precautions and avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. Also, individuals who work outdoors or are “unusually sensitive” could experience more side effects during this time.  

“Due to the dangerous amount of smoke and particulate matter in the air- all people should avoid prolonged outdoor exposure and outdoor exercise.  Although it is unhealthy for everyone, individuals with asthma, COPD or emphysema are at particularrisk.” said Dr. Scott Skibo, physician with Pulmonary Specialists of WNC.  “It is also important to monitor children and the elderly for symptoms of smoke inhalation- as these two age groups are more susceptible.”

North Carolina Air Quality Forecast Center recommends doing the following to protect your health:

  • Know the code in your area, and what it means. To learn more visit: https://xapps.ncdenr.org/aq/ForecastCenter#area3
  • Be aware of your body. Acknowledge any health conditions that may increase your risk. Notice if you experience breathing difficulties.
  • Limit your outdoor physical activity on code orange or worse days, especially if you’re a member of a sensitive group. Any activity that raises your breathing rate increases your risk.
  • Keep indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors closed. Run an air conditioner if you have one, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside. If you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed, seek shelter in a designated evacuation center or away from the affected area.
  • Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution. Burning candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves can increase indoor pollution. Vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home, contributing to indoor pollution. Smoking puts even more pollution into the air.
  • Do your share to care for the air. Driving less, keeping your car tuned, and using less electricity reduces emissions from cars and coal-fired power plants so that everyone can breathe easier.

Follow the advice of your primary care doctor about medicines and about your respiratory management plan if you have asthma or another lung disease. If you need a primary care provider, call our Physician Referral Line at 800.424.DOCS (3627) or visit http://myhaywoodregional.com/FindaDoc.

Haywood Regional Medical Center, a Duke LifePoint Hospital, is located in Haywood County and offers a comprehensive array of services, including orthopedics, spine services, cardiology, general surgery, women's care, emergency medicine, behavioral health, and includes 12 multi-specialty physician clinics. The campus, located in Clyde, is also home to the 54,000 square foot Haywood Regional Health and Fitness Center, the 44,000 square foot Haywood Regional Outpatient Care Center (includes the outpatient surgery center, laboratory, imaging center including women's imaging and physician practices) and nearby, The Homestead, an inpatient hospice facility. Haywood Regional Medical Center also operates two urgent care centers in the county, in Waynesville and Canton.