Wildfire Warning: Hot, smoky days bring about health dangers

N.D. (Valley News Live) - “Just kind of pause for a moment – Wow. You kind of realize how amazing it is out there, just to experience that,” says John Lesteberg, the store manager of Fargo Running Company.

Lesteberg loves running, and he especially loves running outside in the summer heat. “Running in the heat makes you slow down, it makes you check your pace a lot more because your heart rate is going to sky rocket way quicker when you running in 90 degrees, as opposed to 55,” he says.

But now, his favorite heart healthy activity could hurt him.

“People have seen asthma attacks happen. If you feel like you’re having difficulty breathing, if your skin is getting kind of pale because you’re not getting adequate respiration and oxygen, just look out for things like that,” says Levi Nesvold, a Firefighter/EMT with the West Fargo Fire Department.

That’s because a combination of heat, humidity, and smoke are creating dangerous air quality concerns for our area. According to the North Dakota Department of Health, ash and soot from forest fires in the western parts of the U.S. and Canada are traveling through the air and into our lungs.

“You could have a stuffy nose because the mucus in your nose will want to collect the dust particles and smoke particles. Kind of a hoarse voice – get a sore throat from it. Difficulty breathing. Itchy, watery eyes. All of that stuff is very common with smoke,” Nesvold says.

The Department of Health is asking people with respiratory conditions, the elderly, and children to limit how much time they spend outside. As for the rest of us -

“Just take precautions, drink lots of water during the day. Try to limit any outdoor activities if you are having problems until the smoke clears out,” says Nesvold.

Recommendations Lesteberg plans to follow. “Go inside, find a treadmill, or just take a rest day. Because the health benefits don’t outweigh the risks of what you’re ingesting into your lungs,” he says.
The air quality warning is in effect until Saturday.

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