San Bernardino County Health Officer Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare advises county residents with sensitive health conditions who live near areas affected by the Sandalwood Fire to stay alert to changing smoke levels.

“Because of the uncertainty of fire conditions, residents near the fires need to be prepared,” said Dr. Ohikhuare.

Smoky conditions can be hazardous for young children, the elderly, individuals with heart conditions or chronic lung disease such as asthma and bronchitis and individuals with other respiratory ailments. Older adults and children should remain indoors, keep windows and doors closed or seek alternate shelter.

Individuals with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and other lung or heart diseases should make sure they have at least a five-day supply of medication on hand. Individuals with asthma should consult their physician about an asthma management plan and stick to it during unusually smoky conditions. Listen for radio and television messages about fires in your area.

It is recommended that air-conditioning be run on a “recirculation” function. If smoke is present, it will be easier to breathe indoors if air is recirculating instead of drawing smoky air from outdoors. Individuals should contact their doctor if they have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath or severe fatigue. This is important for not only individuals with chronic lung or heart disease, but also for individuals who have not been previously diagnosed with such illnesses. Smoke can “unmask” or produce symptoms of such diseases.

For more information regarding the Sandalwood Fire, visit the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection at  For questions related to smoke and health, residents are urged to contact their primary care provider or the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health’s health centers at 1-800-722-4777.

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