Smoke from wildfires making it hard to breathe for some residents


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The smoke has been visible on the horizon for the last few months. Wildfires popping up daily around the Birmingham are making the air we breathe more hazardous.

Friday, a fire along Interstate 65 burned all day. Visibility was reduced dramatically at times along the road. Residents in Birmingham woke up to a haze-filled sky. The smell of smoke inescapable. Doctors at UAB warn that all the smoke can lead to breathing problems.

Dr. Tejaswini Kulkarni tells CBS42 that is you are having trouble breathing, the best thing to do is get away from the smoke.

“Try to move them to fresh air,” Kulkarni said.

“If there is availability of oxygen and it looks like the patient is struggling to breathe, start that or even to the extent of providing artificial respiration and definitely go to the nearest hospital.”

Prolonged exposure to the smoke can have lasting effects. Kulkarni says that fine particulates that travel in smoke can get all the way inside your lungs and cause inflammation.

“Even people who have other heart conditions have an increased susceptibility,” Kulkarni said.

“Younger children definitely are more susceptible to the injuries caused by the smoke and the older population.”

Kulkarni recommends getting to some fresh air, if possible. If you are having trouble breathing, try wearing a mask outdoors. Look for masks at your local hardware store, similar to the ones you would wear while painting. If you have asthma, and see an increase in the use of your emergency inhaler, see your doctor as soon as possible.

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