Mon, July 22

Editorial: For health’s sake, stay out of the smoke

Wildfire smoke continues the unavoidable misery of living in the Verde Valley. It’s not like the climate; human beings do not “acclimate” to smoke.

For a month now the Weir Fire near Stoneman Lake has been burning in a managed fashion, though started by lightning. As the winds shift, Camp Verde and the Beaver Creek area have been regularly inundated with a layer of smoke, which, at its mildest, is very irritating. It is typical of fires that burn frequently in the national forest surrounding us; it’s how we live.

But instead of going about daily lives as usual (complaining, of course), it is wise to adjust and stay out of that filthy air as much as possible. The elderly, the ill and the very young are not the only folks susceptible to health problems when smoke is in the air.

According to the American Lung Association, healthy athletes playing sports in a smoky atmosphere can exhibit the same signs of exhaustion, illness and debilitation as firefighters. For most people in these parts, there is inevitably an increase in allergy and asthma complaints. Yes, Camp Verdeans walking around bleary-eyed and cranky have something to blame.

We’ve learned better than to think smoke inundation will stop. The U.S. Forest Service has to burn what it has to burn, and will try to manage the fires it does not start itself. But there is no magic wand to control the direction of the smoke no matter how far away the source.

When there is little that can be done to stop smoke from gathering in the valley, it’s your responsibility to make common-sense decisions about your health and your family’s health. Seeing smoke is one thing, but if you can smell smoke, it is probably not wise to be running around outdoors.

Even if it means a brief inconvenience in lifestyle plans, taking steps to stay out of the smoke will make life a lot less miserable in times like these.