The wildfires that ravaged through northern and southern California in recent weeks brought devastation to many, burning down entire homes and neighbourhoods, while also leading to serious injury even death. The are no words to describe the destruction of a fast-moving wildfire and it is perhaps only images themselves that give the most accurate depiction of their scale and ferocity.
Unfortunately, the risks and dangers of California’s wildfires haven’t vanished with the fire. In the midst of a fiery chaos California residents are are not only dealing with the loss of loved ones and property damage, but also repercussions to their own health, which can become worse over time.
As a former forest fire-fighter myself, I know the symptoms of smoke exposure all too well. After several months each year of working at the epicenter of where big fires start – the thick smoke of a burning forest was commonplace and my health would suffer for much longer than my contract! Coughing, shortened breath, headaches, sore throat, constant symptoms of a sinus infection and black mucus (“fire boogers”) lasted for about a month after my fire season ended. Staying healthy is possible, but it’s a challenge.