Chronic Conditions and Wildfire Smoke

People with any chronic condition should take the following steps to protect themselves from wildfire smoke:

  • Before wildfire season:
    • Talk to your healthcare provider. Plan how you will protect yourself against wildfire smoke.
    • Stock up on medicine. Store a 7 to 10-day supply of prescription medicines in a waterproof, childproof container to take with you if you evacuate.
    • Buy groceries you won’t need to cook. Frying or grilling especially can make indoor air pollution worse.
  • During a wildfire smoke event:
    • Pay attention to air quality reportsexternal icon. Follow instructions about exercise and going outside for “sensitive individuals.”
    • Follow you healthcare provider’s advice and your asthma action plan if you have one.
    • Think about evacuating if you have trouble breathing or other symptoms that do not get better.
  • After a wildfire:
    • Do not return home until you are told it is safe to do so.
    • Look out for any symptoms. Contact your healthcare provider if you have trouble breathing, shortness of breath, cough that won’t stop, or other symptoms that do not go away. Call 9-1-1 or go right away to an emergency department for medical emergencies.
    • Smoke can stay in the air days after wildfires have ended so continue to check local air quality.

Advice for Specific Chronic Conditions

Asthma

If you or your child has asthma:

  • During a wildfire smoke event:
    • Follow you healthcare provider’s advice and your asthma action plan if you have one.
    • If you go to a shelter, make sure officials know that you or your child has asthma.
  • After a wildfire:
    • Look out for any asthma symptoms. Contact your healthcare provider if you have trouble breathing, shortness of breath, cough that won’t stop, or other symptoms that do not go away. Call 9-1-1 or go right away to an emergency department for medical emergencies.

COPD

If you have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD):

  • Before wildfire season:
    • Talk to your healthcare provider about your COPD. Plan how you will protect yourself against wildfire smoke.
  • During a wildfire smoke event:
    • If you go to a shelter, make sure officials know that you have COPD.

Heart Disease

If you have heart diseasepdf icon:

  • Before wildfire season:
    • Talk to your healthcare provider about your heart disease. Plan how you will protect yourself against wildfire smoke.
  • During a wildfire smoke event:
    • Think about evacuating if you have trouble breathing or other symptoms that do not get better. If you have heart palpitations, unusual fatigue, or shortness of breath, or other symptoms of a heart attack, contact your healthcare provider.
    • If you go to a shelter, make sure officials know that you have heart disease.
  • After a wildfire:
    • Look out for any symptoms. Contact your healthcare provider if you have trouble breathing, shortness of breath, cough that won’t stop, or other symptoms that do not go away. Call 9-1-1 or go right away to an emergency department for medical emergencies like severe trouble breathing, chest pain, or if you think you are having a heart attack or stroke.
Page last reviewed: May 31, 2019