State health department issues alert regarding smoke


The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued an alert today for those living near areas affected by Southern California fires.

“Smoky conditions can be hazardous for young children, the elderly, individuals with heart conditions and individuals with respiratory ailments such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis,” Dr. Mark Horton, the state health department director, said. “Because of the uncertainty of fire conditions, individuals who are taking medication for these medical conditions should ensure they have at least a five-day supply of medication on hand.”

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proclaimed a State of Emergency in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura due to more than 11 major wildfires.

Residents who live near the affected areas should be prepared to stay indoors, limit their activity if necessary and check for a “recirculation” function on the air conditioner. If smoke is present, it will be easier to breathe indoors if air is recirculating instead of drawing smoky air from outdoors.

Californians should seek medical attention if they are experiencing symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness or shortness of breath. This is important for not only people 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.

Dr. David Frankle of Malibu Urgent Care on Pacific Coast Highway and Webb Way recommended that those with asthma, respiratory illnesses or fragile lungs consider leaving areas where smoke is heavy. If unable to leave, a good air conditioner and/or air purifier would help, he said. Masks, such as those painters use, Frankle said are “probably not that effective, but better than nothing.”

Frankle treated two Pepperdine employees for smoke inhalation, but said they were otherwise fine.

The doctor said he had trouble getting to the urgent care center this morning because of roadblocks and law enforcement not recognizing emergency preparedness cards issued by the City of Malibu. He said the center was operating with a “skeleton” crew of three people, including him.

Frankle said Supercare Drugs at 23357 Pacific Coast Highway (310.456.9059) and the Dume Plaza Pharmacy at 29211 Heathercliff Rd. (310.457.9707)are open, but the CVS pharmacy is closed. The Malibu Urgent Care Center is open 365 days a year, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. 9310.456.7551). Those with serious medical emergencies should call 911 for paramedics.