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High Park fire: Take precautionary steps to avoid respiratory problems

For immediate release: June 11. 2012

Gary Kimsey, 970.495.7427,

Take steps to avoid respiratory problems from High Park fire

In the wake of the High Park fire, Poudre Valley Hospital's chief respiratory therapist recommends that people closely monitor air quality and, if needed, take precautionary steps.

"People need to be proactive in monitoring air quality and adjust their lifestyles as necessary," said Richard Hahn, the hospital's respiratory therapy manager.

He advised individuals at high risk to be particularly aware since they may be more easily impacted by air pollution from the fire.

High-risk individuals are the elderly, young children, pregnant women, and people who have such pre-existing respiratory issues as asthma, emphysema or colds.

Symptoms can include eye, nose or throat irritation, as well as runny eyes and noses; or coughing or sore throat.

"If a person has trouble breathing or tightness of the chest, it might be a health situation where it's necessary to go to the doctor or, depending on the severity, an emergency room," Hahn said.

Hahn advised monitoring air quality through the 5-mile rule. "If the visibility is less than five miles when you're outside, it's time to be concerned," he pointed out.

He offered these steps for protection:

• If possible, temporarily relocate to an area outside of the High Park smoke zone.

• Go to a location where air is filtered. A local mall, movie theater or recreation center, for example, might provide temporary relief.

• Close windows and remain indoors. But don't close up the indoors so tightly that it is dangerously warm.

• Run air-conditioning if there is a filter on the unit. Or run an evaporative cooler or fan system. Keep outdoor air intakes closed and make sure the unit has a filter.

• Reduce physical activity.

• Drink plenty of fluids, get ample sleep, make healthy eating choices, and give extra attention to actions that help keep people healthy.

For more information, Hahn recommended the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's air pollution control web site: The site also has a frequently updated forecast for Front Range air quality and Colorado smoke outlook.


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