Staying healthy during New Jersey’s Code Red Air Quality Alert
🔴 Most of New Jersey is under a Code Red Air Quality Alert
🔴 Even people who usually don't have respiratory issues should take precautions
🔴 Could there be more smoke events?
The smoke and haze from Canadian wildfires hanging over New Jersey are causing concern for those with asthma and other underlying lung issues.
Pictures showing the sun as an orange disk and the New York City skyline shrouded by smoke have emerged as over 418 active fires burn across Canada with 245 considered out of control. There are 154 fires in Quebec.
Most of New Jersey is under a Code Red Air Quality Alert issued by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for unhealthy levels. The smoke levels came down Wednesday with clearing skies but another wave of smoke is expected to thicken the smoke in the afternoon.
Dr. Lisa M. Casale, a pulmonary and critical care physician with Hackensack Meridian Health's JFK University Medical Center in Edison, said that poor air quality can affect everybody.
"Poor air quality can trigger shortness of breath in normal patients, and it can also worsen shortness of breath in patients with underlying lung conditions such as COPD or asthma," Casale said.
The smoke from the wildfires is different from the smog and air that becomes stagnant during a summer heatwave when air quality alerts are posted.
"The smoke is traveling and I'm sure it makes the quality of the air much worse and it contains more particulate matter too, so it's probably going to cause A little more shortness of breath and cough and difficulty for the patients who have breathing problems or for patients who do not have any underlying breathing problems," Casale said.
It also doesn't help that the air quality can differ during the course of a day.
"I think you have to not let your guard and continue to be cautious. Until the air quality improves you should be taking all the precautions. It might look like it's a little better outside but you should still take all those precautions until we're clear and the air quality index improves.
Some precautions Casale suggested to take include:
🔴 Limit one's outdoor activity
🔴 Try to stay indoors and keep the air quality high by keeping the air conditioning on
🔴 Wear a KN-95 mask while outdoors
🔴 Stay hydrated
🔴 Keep windows closed
🔴 Recirculate the air in your vehicle instead of opening the vents
🔴 Use an air purifier
🔴 If you have any underlying respiratory problems make sure you're taking your regular medications
Indicative of future events
Gov. Phil Murphy said his team and the Department of Environmental Protection are closely monitoring the air quality.
“As conditions worsen statewide, I strongly urge all sensitive individuals – including those with heart or lung disease, the elderly, and the young – to stay safe and limit strenuous activities and the amount of time active outdoors today," Murphy said in a statement.
"As the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Forest Fire Service works tirelessly to protect our residents and properties across the state, we will continue to do our own part by pursuing the bold action our climate reality demands," the governor said.