Health Threats of Wildfire Smoke

Below is Texas-specific information on wildfire smoke precautions from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

What are the health threats of wildfire smoke?

Smoke can pose a serious health threat, especially if you have chronic heart or lung disease. Children and older adults are also at greater risk. Even healthy people can be affected by smoky conditions.
Smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and plants. It can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system and worsen symptoms from pre-existing conditions. Common symptoms of smoke exposure include:

  • Coughing
  • Scratchy throat
  • Irritated sinuses
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches
  • Stinging eyes
  • Runny nose

If you experience any of these symptoms, take the following measures:

  • Limit outdoor activities as much as possible. When you must go outside, wear a protective mask with an N-95 ratingand avoid physical exertion
  • Keep the windows and doors of your home shut
  • Run the air conditioner with the fresh-air intake closed and use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters
  • Avoid cooking as much as possible
  • Do not burn candles or use fireplaces
  • Do not use vacuum cleaners which can stir up dust already inside your home
  • Keep your airways moist by drinking plenty of water. To help relieve dryness, breathe through a warm, wet cloth