Protect your health during the California fires

by Dr. Brent Caplan and Dr. Tiffany Caplan-Central Coast Center for Integrative Health

The Thomas fire has caused tragic loss in our community. However, it is inspiring to see the community come together to support each other through this difficult time. One important thing to keep in mind is the health impact of the wildfires. We are not only inhaling smoke from trees and bushes, but also contaminants from houses, including toxic paints, plastics and chemicals. This can lead to oxidative damage and inflammatory destruction of our cells and tissues. The good news is we can take certain precautions to avoid the negative impacts of the smoke on our health.

HEPA Air Purifier

High efficiency (HEPA) air purifiers are a great way to improve your indoor air quality. You can put HEPA air purifiers in the rooms you spend most of your time in (i.e. living room, bedroom) or take one with you as you move around your house.

Stay Indoors

Make sure to keep windows closed and avoid spending excessive amounts of time outside. Do not exercise outside until the air quality clears up. Instead, exercise inside your home or at an indoor gym. If using your car’s air conditioning or heat while driving, set it to recycle the air from inside your car.

Particulate Mask

When going outside into a smoky area, wear a particulate mask (N-95 or P100). Dust masks and bandanas are ineffective against wildfire smoke.

Water, Water, Water

Stay hydrated by drinking lots of clean water. In some regions, loss of water pressure and water supply from fire-related power outages has compromised water sanitation. If you are in one of these regions, utilize bottled water or bring tap water to a rolling boil for at least 1-minute before drinking or using it to cook.

Vitamin C

Inhaling smoke and ash will wreak havoc on your body and cause oxidative stress. Taking vitamin C is a great antioxidant that will combat this and help flush toxins out of your system.

Olive Oil

Research indicates that olive oil may counter the detrimental effects of exposure to air pollution. Utilizing extra virgin olive oil on salads or other foods may help your body combat the effects of the wild fire smoke.

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