Recently, the Edmonton area was heavily impacted by wildfires and the resulting smoke. As the skies turned hazy and the smell of fire lingered in the air, most of us felt quite uncertain and vulnerable.
While these feelings are natural, don’t let fear overwhelm you. There are a number of things you can do to protect yourself from wildfire smoke exposure to reduce any negative health effects.
Thankfully, these fires have now been brought under control, but we’ve been told to expect such situations to recur. Here’s some useful information to help guide you in safeguarding your health during these challenging times.
What’s the concern?
Besides the actual threat of fire, exposure to smoke also affects our health. Wildfire smoke is a complex mixture of harmful particles and gasses, including fine particulate matter, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and more. When inhaled, these pollutants can penetrate deep into our respiratory system, causing respiratory distress, worsening asthma and other pre-existing conditions, and increasing the risk of respiratory infections. The knowledge that every breath could potentially harm us is undeniably unsettling.
And even after the smoke dissipates, its effects linger. Prolonged exposure to wildfire smoke has been linked to various health issues, including chronic respiratory problems, cardiovascular diseases, and an increased susceptibility to some infections. The uncertainty of how long these effects may persist can further heighten anxiety.
It can also affect our mental health. The constant exposure to haze, the fear of potential evacuation, and the destruction caused by wildfires contributes to our levels of stress and anxiety, resulting in a general sense of insecurity. It’s a double whammy of physical and emotional strain.
How can you protect yourself?
One way to protect yourself is to stay informed about air quality conditions in your area. Consult reliable sources including local air quality monitoring agencies and regularly check the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) to make informed decisions about outdoor activities.
Remain indoors as much as possible when wildfire smoke is in your area. Keep windows and doors closed and use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters or air purifiers to improve indoor air quality. Avoid activities that generate additional indoor pollutants, such as smoking or burning candles.
You’ll want to limit the time you spend outdoors, especially during peak periods, but when staying indoors isn’t practical, take extra precautions to protect yourself from the smoke. Wear a properly fitted N95 or other high quality mask to filter out harmful particles.
Staying hydrated can help to alleviate dryness in the throat and nasal passages caused by smoke exposure. Fluids also help our bodies effectively flush out contaminants. If you’re looking to boost your hydration, try using electrolyte supplements for a great-tasting source of fluids.
If you experience symptoms like difficulty breathing, chest pain, or persistent coughing, seek medical attention promptly. It’s especially important to watch for symptoms in children, pregnant or elderly individuals, or anyone with a pre-existing condition.
Maintaining your overall health and well-being
Focus on maintaining your overall health with strategies like having a good diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. When we’re under stress, our bodies need even more vitamins and minerals than usual. Eating nutritious foods and taking quality supplements can help offset oxidative damage and counter the negative effects of smoke exposure.
Here are our top picks for supplements to add to your routine when wildfire smoke is in your area:
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps combat oxidative stress caused by exposure to pollutants, including those present in wildfire smoke. Antioxidants work by neutralizing free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage cells and contribute to inflammation. Vitamin C has also been associated with supporting respiratory function, which can be particularly vulnerable to the irritants in wildfire smoke. While it can’t directly reverse the effects of smoke exposure, it contributes to supporting your body’s maintenance of healthy lung tissues, reducing the risk of respiratory infections.
Vitamin D3 plays a role in supporting respiratory health. It also possesses anti-inflammatory properties that can help to modulate the inflammatory response by reducing excessive inflammation.
When researchers looked at the protective effects of vitamin D3 in mice exposed to cigarette smoke, their findings indicated that low doses of this vitamin can effectively protect the lungs from damage.
Since vitamin D3 is also essential for various other things like bone health, muscle function, and overall well-being, it makes sense to add it to your regular routine, including when wildfire smoke is present.
Ask us about easy-to-take liquid drops for adults and children.
Give your body’s antioxidant defence system a boost with glutathione. It helps neutralize harmful free radicals, detoxifying acetaldehyde and other toxins found in wildfire smoke. It also offers preventive protection from smoke inhalation.
Because glutathione is involved in the detoxification process, it supports your body’s ability to process and eliminate toxins encountered during prolonged exposure to smoke.
Taking glutathione daily can give you some assurance that you’re protecting your body from the damaging effects of smoke. We offer highly absorptive glutathione supplements—drop by to pick some up!
This is yet another antioxidant that can help to protect your cells from oxidative stress and free radical damage. Since exposure to wildfire smoke can potentially weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to respiratory infections and other health issues, selenium’s role in supporting our immune response is also critical.
Look for an antioxidant formula with broad spectrum antioxidant protection. Research shows that taking a combination of antioxidants can be more effective than when each antioxidant is taken alone, making a comprehensive antioxidant supplement an excellent choice for wildfire smoke exposure.
At Firstline Nutrition, we’re Edmonton’s premier source for high-quality supplements and professional health guidance. While exposure to wildfire smoke can be undeniably scary and unsettling, understanding the risks and taking appropriate precautions can help you protect yourself. Mitigate the potential health hazards by coming in to talk to us about how supplements and other precautionary measures can help keep you safe from smoke.
Our thoughts continue to be with those personally affected by the fires, and our gratitude goes out to everyone involved in bringing the fires under control. While we hope not to see those smoke levels in Edmonton again soon, at least now you’ll know how to keep yourself and your family as protected as possible.