A Blog from Your Kaiser Permanente Pediatricians in Northern California

mother and child indoors away from wildfire smoke

Protect Your Child from Unhealthy Air Exposure

Wildfires continue to burn in several California counties. Wind can blow considerable amounts of smoke to locations well outside of the impacted areas.

We know this may be a difficult time for you and your family, and we’re here to help. Here are some ways to protect your entire family’s health from unhealthy air exposure:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible, with doors and windows closed and reduce physical activity if possible.
  • Use an air conditioner set on recirculate or an air purifier with a HEPA filter.
  • Avoid exercising outside or being outdoors for prolonged periods.
  • Set home and car air conditioning units or vent systems to recirculate rather than drawing from the smoky air outside.
  • Use over-the-counter tear replacement eye drops if your eyes are irritated.
  • Wear a properly fitted mask to filter air contaminants if you must be outside. Masks can be a breathing risk for babies and young children, so don’t use them. It’s better to keep children indoors.

If your child has asthma, smoke can make symptoms worse or cause a flare up:

  • Watch your child for asthma symptoms, such as wheezing, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing.
  • Follow your child’s asthma action plan. Continue to use daily asthma (control) and any recommended allergy medicines.

How to manage an asthma flare up:

  • Try not to panic.
  • Quick treatment at home may help prevent serious breathing problems.
  • Help your child take their asthma and wheezing medicines, including your quick-relief inhaler (albuterol) or steroid pills.

Contact your doctor if:

  • Your child’s symptoms don’t improve or get worse after your usual home treatment.
  • You have questions about managing your child’s asthma.
  • You’re out of medicine and need an urgent refill.

Kaiser Permanente members in Northern California can reach our 24/7 Appointment and Advice Call Center at 866-454-8855.

Stay healthy. From your Kaiser Permanente pediatricians.

Find more resources for parents:

My Doctor Online
Asthma in Children
Protect Yourself from Wildfire Smoke

Environmental Protection Agency:
Wildfire Smoke Factsheet

To learn more about reducing exposure to ash when returning home after a fire, visit: California Department of Public Health

This article was originally published on November 9, 2018.

Disclaimer: If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder. This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.