Experts offer tips to stay safe during poor air quality days

Charlotte was under a Code Red Air Quality Alert for much of the day Wednesday.
Haze from Canadian wildfires has caused some air quality concerns throughout much of the eastern U.S.
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 7:05 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Wildfires in Canada are causing a hazardous haze across the East Coast and in the Charlotte region. The particles in the air can have impacts on just about everyone, including children, the elderly, and people with underlying health issues.

A Code Orange Air Quality Alert is in place for the remainder of the week for all of North Carolina and portions of South Carolina.

WBTV talked to a doctor at Avance Care in SouthPark about the impacts poor air quality can have on one’s overall health, even those who don’t suffer from any existing conditions.

“Generally, Code Red air quality is going to make it feel like you’re having a little bit much difficulty breathing when you’re outside,” Dr. Mary Knox, an owner and physician at Avance Care, said.

[Air Quality guide from the NC Department of Environmental and Natural Resource]

Knox said that can happen when people are walking to their car, exercising, or doing other outdoor activities on bad air quality days.

“If you’re feeling a little less able to do what you normally do, maybe back it down, go inside and try again at a later time,” she said.

The doctor said healthy people may not notice the difference in the air quality, but those with asthma, bronchitis or other respiratory illnesses may have issues. Dr. Knox advised people with lung disease to stay inside.

“I would tell people to try to avoid the hottest part of the day being outside, mainly because that’s harder to breath because you’re exerting yourself,” Knox said.

Anyone with underlying health conditions should also be cautious, and childcare centers are no different.

“As soon as we hear there’s a red alert for air quality, we are following protocol,” Karen Smith-Jones, owner and executive director of Nana’s Place Learning Center in Charlotte, said.

Nana’s Place said it limits the time outside for children on bad weather and poor air quality days.

The childcare center also provides more water for children during their playtime, and medication is on standby for children with respiratory issues.

Meanwhile, physicians want people to be weather aware.

“Generally, you just need to be cautious and if you notice some difficulty with breathing, try to get back inside, and if it doesn’t get better, call your doctor,” Dr. Knox said.

Doctors also suggest using emergency inhalers multiple times per day on bad air quality days, if needed. Also, if people must be outside, it’s best to do so earlier in the day, or later when it’s cooler.

Related: First Alert Weather Days still in place due to Code Orange Air Quality Alert