Scripps Offers Public Health Tips as San Diego County Wildfires Burn

Learn how to minimize your risk of fire-related health conditions

News 2014 San Diego Wildfires Plume 600×375

As wildfires continue to burn across San Diego County, Scripps Health offers important personal health tips for the public to remember, both during the fires and in their aftermath.

Hazardous air quality caused by wildfires – including smoke and airborne debris – can create significant public health hazards, especially for sensitive populations such as the elderly and those with respiratory disease. Environmental conditions often worsen as the fires subside and winds stir up ash and debris.

According to Scripps Health Chief Medical Officer James E. LaBelle, MD, these are important tips that can minimize risk to fire-related health conditions:

Respiratory distress

People with chronic lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease should evacuate fire areas and stay away until the smoke clears and cannot be smelled or tasted. Be patient, as ashes can smolder for a long time after the fires are extinguished.

Eye and throat irritation

Most people will experience some degree of discomfort, but this can be minimized by staying clear of affected areas.

Shortness of breath and chest pain:

Those who experience these symptoms are advised to proceed immediately to a nearby emergency department for evaluation.


Feelings of anxiety are normal during a natural disaster, but they should not be disabling. Those with severe anxiety may reflect on the successes of emergency responders and preservation of human life. Being with family and friends can help.

All Scripps hospitals and outpatient facilities are currently open to provide ongoing medical care and emergency services. More information is available by calling 1-800-SCRIPPS.

Media Contact

Steve Carpowich

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