Health Ministry Issues Advisory Surrounding Bush Fires

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Updated: June 2, 2016

Statistics for the period January to April 2016 have shown that the National Fire Service has had to deal with over four hundred bush fires around the country.  The month of April saw two hundred bush fires reported with Ladyville Village in the Belize District registering the most for April at forty four.  Residents in the rural areas seem to be the most affected by the smoke and with that the Ministry of Health has issued an advisory.  For those in the areas prone to bush fires, the ministry says there is a risk for vulnerable individuals to experience over exposure to smoke.  According to the ministry’s release, “The smoke is made up of tiny particles and gases; when these are breathed into the lungs, they cancause asthma attacks, worsen chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and chest pains in some people with heart disease. It also has the potential to irritate eyes and trigger prolonged coughing spells. Individuals with chronic lung conditions and asthma in particular are advised to avoid areas with intense smoke if possible. In the event that one cannot avoid the smoke, the use of masks or wet rags may alleviate effects.  In addition to smoke exposure, intense heat may also be experienced. The public is reminded of the advice on heat stroke: drink sufficient water, dress adequately and keep in the shade as much as possible. Signs of heat stroke include red skin, fever, seizures, headache, a rapid pulse and sometimes unconsciousness. Respiratory distress and heat stroke are medical emergencies. Anyone exhibiting the signs and symptoms of either of these conditions should be taken to the nearest health center or hospital immediately.”  The ministry goes on advising children and elderly person s to remain indoors and to avoid strenuous physical activities while all individuals should reduce prolonged activities outdoors.   Due to the bush fires, the poor air quality may continue for an unpredictable time as the country is at the peak of the dry season when the ignition of fires is common. Persons engaging in any form of burning during this dry season is advised to exercise care to contain the fire at source and put out any fire that shows sign of possible spread.”