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Safety during a fire emergency


Staff writers
May 24, 2012 — As forest fires continue to burn in the Timmins area, officials are reminding residents to stay calm and monitor the conditions.


It's common for people with respiratory problem to experience difficulty breathing when air conditions are diminished
It's common for people with respiratory problem to experience difficulty breathing when air conditions are diminished

Forest fires in the Timmins area have burned through roughly 29,000 hectares of land, diminishing air quality and prompting a state of emergency.

In some places, road travel has been prohibited. In others, people are being advised to stay indoors.

Dr. Rosemarie Ramsingh, a medical officer with the Porcupine Health Unit in Timmins, says it's common for people with respiratory problems - such as asthma or emphysema - to experience difficulty breathing when air conditions are diminished.

Children, pregnant women and the elderly are also at risk, because they tend to have below-average lung capacity.

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

Stay indoors. "If you're thinking of doing exercise outdoors, do it inside if you can," Dr. Ramsingh advises.

Avoid tobacco smoke. Exposure to other smoke-producing objects - like candles, incense and wood-burning ovens - should also be limited.

Keep windows closed when driving. Dr. Ramsingh recommends running the car's air conditioning on the recirculation function. "That will keep things from coming in," she says, adding that it's also a good idea to keep residential windows closed during a fire emergency.

If you're on medication, talk with your doctor. "You may need your medication adjusted for respiratory purposes," Dr. Ramsingh says. "If any symptoms come up showing that it's harder to breathe, or if you have heart disease and are noticing more chest pain, talk with your doctor right away."

Fire-related health inquiries in northeastern Ontario are being referred to the Porcupine Health Unit at: 705-267-1181.

Visit the Air Quality Index to learn about conditions across the country.

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