Beaver, WV (WVNS) – Southern West Virginia continues to see wildfires spring up around the region.
At Grandview State Park, people were taking in the sights and sounds of the wildfires.
Even while safely away from the fires, the smoke can still cause issues.
New Jersey resident Nikki Karas said the event reminds her of when wildfire smoke swept through the northeast this past summer.
“It’s definitely harder to breathe, the air quality is definitely not the best. I personally had a headache yesterday from it but it’s definitely making it difficult to breathe,” Karas said.
The air quality isn’t just affecting visitors, it’s also affecting locals.
West Virginia has some of the highest cases of black lung and COPD, and the smoke can negatively effect those individuals.
Breathing in the smoke can cause shortness of breath, wheezing, and fatigue.
While these cases are prevalent in elderly people, WVU Tech nursing student Hanna Payne said smoke can also affect younger people.
“We have the Annex building, which is further away from the rest of campus. Some students have to walk all the way over so by the time you get over there and breathe in all of this smoke, I’m sure it would be hard to breathe, especially for people who have conditions like asthma,” Payne said.
As for what you can do to stay healthy, Payne has some advice.
She says to always monitor the latest air quality alerts before going outside.
She also says to look after friends or family who suffer from breathing issues.
This statement is true for New Jersey resident Keeyahtay Lewis, who said his own mother would have trouble with the smoke.
“If you have breathing problems, you have emphysema, you have COPD or something like that, there’s certain areas that you definitely want to avoid. You can see it when you start driving into it, you can see it change and you can see the fog,” Lewis said.
Hanna Payne says if you suffer from breathing issues, the safe bet is to stay inside.
But if you need to head outside, make sure to have an inhaler on you or contact your primary care physician.