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Wildfire in Minnesota Affects Northern Michigan

September 13, 2011, 9:09 am


There is a wildfire burning burning near Ely in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in extreme Northeast Minnesota. It was ignited by lightning on Aug. 18. The fire has since grown to around 11,000 acres. On Sunday, strong north winds drove the fire south, and more than 100 campers were assisted out of the wilderness by public safety crews. Unless the winds shift and carry the fumes and smoke elsewhere, we may have to breathe the acrid stuff for awhile.

With the rising smoke levels, there is an increased risk of dangerous health effects ranging from respiratory tract irritation to more serious illness, including reduced lung function, bronchitis, and exacerbation of asthma. For anyone with a compromised immune system, older adults, and children, it would be wise to limit outdoor activities if not avoid them altogether. Due to the high levels of pollutants, people with respiratory problems and chronic heart disease may experience increased symptoms. Smoke particles can cause runny eyes and noses, sore or scratchy throats and eyes, inflamed sinuses, headaches, coughs, and difficulty breathing.

Here are some tips to cope with the smoke.

  • If you’re driving, keep your car windows closed, and run the air conditioning with the vent to the outside closed.
  • Stay home or stay at work during your shift and keep the doors and windows closed.
  • Run the air conditioner with re-circulated air from time to time. Close the fresh air intake and make sure the filter is clean.
  • Use an eyewash to rinse irritated eyes. Oryana carries an herbal eye wash by Primavu.
  • Irrigate your sinuses frequently with saline solution using a bulb syringe or netipot. Oryana also carries various neti pots and salt mixes. Nasal irrigation involves flooding the nasal cavity with a warm saline solution in order to clear out excess mucus and particulates (i.e., dust, smoke, or pollen particles), and moisturize the nasal cavity.
  • Keep pets indoors.
  • Try one of the following homeopathic remedies:
    Arsenicum: For smoke exposure with anxiety.
    Euphrasia: For simple smoke exposure with irritation to eyes and possibly nose and no other symptoms.
    Kali bichromicum: For more serious smoke exposure with irritated sinuses and/or lungs.
    Natrum arsenicosum: Great sensitivity to smoke. Useful when the indicated remedies haven’t helped much or at all.
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