How to Stay Safe in Smokey Weather
The smoke in Gainesville continues, so it’s time to ask some serious and important questions: How can we stay safe when the weather isn’t?
Well, first of all, don’t go for a leisurely walk in the smog, like I just did. That was just ridiculous.
Here’s what you can do to keep your lungs healthy and clear.
1. Stay informed. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection provides this map of air quality in your area. Look for Alachua County; you can see the yellow and red flickers pass over us, indicating unhealthy levels of particulate matter in the air.
2. Use your information. If the index doesn’t look good, don’t go running! Which leads to our next point…
3. Exercise indoors. Even if you’re training for a marathon, it’s better to alter your training schedule than suffer the effects of wildfire smoke. A recent NOAA study indicates that wildfire smoke contains compounds found in cigarette smoke, like isocyanic acid. That’s right–a cyanide compound! And it’s not only bad for your lungs: it’s been linked to heart disease and arthritis. So no tennis, soccer, and beach volleyball for now. At least not until we have clear skies. And beaches.
3. Minimize outdoor activity. This goes hand in hand with No. 2, but it can’t be emphasized enough. Not just running, but also walking and biking. I’m a walker myself and feel your pain. But now is the time to hitch rides with friends, organize carpools, and lock your bike to the rack. Treat this like a snow day: treat yourself to hot chocolate or tea, curl up on the sofa with a few buddies, and watch old favorites. Annie Hall, anyone?
4. Use air conditioning wisely. Even the eco-conscious among us–including members of the Parisleaf family–should keep the air conditioning running in these smokey times. Use it in your house, but also in your car. Also remember to change your filter regularly. You might want to consider keeping a fan on to circulate the air further.
5. Drink lots of water. It’s always a good idea to drink water throughout the day. But in smokey conditions, pollutants can get lodged in your throat. Water will help you cough ‘em out.
6. Drop the lenses. If you wear contacts, let them soak in peace for a few days and put on your glasses. The smoke can fog the lenses and even curdle them. This actually happened to me last week.
And that’s the list! Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay green. We’ll be trying too