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West Coast Still Under Fire

Southern California residents may be at risk from smoke-filled air

Southern California Wildfires Forces Thousands to Evacuate

Ronen Tivony/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Poor air quality from smoke and ash is particularly dangerous for older people and those with respiratory and heart conditions.

After a season full of devastating wildfires on the West Coast, Southern Californians are still feeling the heat. Santa Ana wind-driven wildfires are raging in the area, forcing thousands to evacuate and destroying at least 180 structures, according to the Los Angeles Times. On top of the physical destruction, residents are suffering from poor air quality from the smoke and ash, which is especially hazardous for older people and those with respiratory and heart conditions.

Officials in Los Angeles County are urging residents in affected communities — which include San Fernando Valley, Lake View Terrace, Sylmar, Malibu and Santa Monica — to avoid going outdoors, limit exercise and keep windows and doors closed. 

Additional tips from the American Lung Association on combating unhealthy air include:

  • Check air-pollution forecasts in your area. (The association offers a smartphone app for Android and iPhone that can assist with this.) 
  • Use electric or hand-powered lawn-care equipment.
  • Don’t burn wood or trash.

Experts also recommend using the recirculate button in your car or on your air conditioner, so that you are not bringing in new particulate matter.

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