In 2016, 67,743 fires burned 5,509,995 acres in the United States. In 2017, as of late December, nearly 10 million acres have burned. Wildfires can cause life threat, bereavement, loss of physical property, financial hardship, and ongoing stressors as people work to put their lives back together.
Wild fire season seems to have started early this summer in northern California. This brings about many reactions here locally due to the Butte Fire of only a couple short years ago. There are many things to consider living in a wildfire area. Please share this information and take care of yourself and also remember to look in on family and friends as well during this stressful season.
Wildfire smoke can harm you in multiple ways. Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases. The following information tells you how you can protect your health and be safe if you are exposed to wildfire smoke.
Wildfire smoke is a mix of gases and fine particles from burning vegetation, building materials, and other materials. Wildfire smoke can make anyone sick. Even someone who is healthy can get sick if there is enough smoke in the air. Breathing in smoke can have immediate health effects, including: coughing, trouble breathing normally, stinging eyes, scratchy throat, runny nose, irritated sinuses, wheezing and shortness of breath, chest pain, headaches, asthma attacks, tiredness, fast heartbeat.
Older adults, pregnant women, children, and people with preexisting respiratory and heart conditions may be more likely to get sick if they breathe in wildfire smoke.
Seven Tips for Protecting Yourself from Breathing Wildfire Smoke
If possible, limit your exposure to smoke. Here are eight tips to help you protect your health:
Pay attention to local air quality reports and the US Air Quality Index . When a wildfire occurs in your area, watch for news or health warnings about smoke. Pay attention to public health messages and take extra safety measures such as avoiding spending time outdoors.
Pay attention to visibility guides if they are available. Although not every community measures the amount of particles in the air, some communities in the western United States have guidelines to help people estimate air quality based on how far they can see.
If you are told to stay indoors, stay indoors and keep your indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors closed unless it is very hot outside. Run an air conditioner if you have one, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside. Seek shelter elsewhere if you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed.
Use an air filter. Use a freestanding indoor air filter with particle removal to help protect people with heart disease, asthma or other respiratory conditions and the elderly and children from the effects of wildfire smoke. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on filter replacement and where to place the device.
Do not add to indoor pollution. When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns, such as candles and fireplaces. Do not vacuum, because vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home. Do not smoke tobacco or other products, because smoking puts even more pollution into the air.
Follow your doctor's advice about medicines and about your respiratory management plan if you have asthma or another lung disease or cardiovascular disease. Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen.
Do not rely on dust masks for protection. Paper "comfort" or "dust" masks commonly found at hardware stores trap large particles, such as sawdust. These masks will not protect your lungs from smoke. An "N95" mask, properly worn, will offer some protection.
Wildfires: Information for Pregnant Women and Parents of Young Infants
If you're a pregnant woman who has been evacuated from your home, please do the following:
When checking into an emergency shelter or temporary housing, tell the staff you are pregnant or if you think you might be pregnant.
Seek prenatal care even if it is not with your usual provider.
If you have your prescription medicines with you, take them as directed.
If you don't have your prescription medicines with you, ask health care providers at the shelter for assistance in getting them.
Make sure health care providers know about any special needs or health problems that you have, as well as any medicines you might be taking (both over the counter and prescription.)
Drink plenty of water.
Avoid breathing smoke or fumes from recently burned buildings or houses.
If you are a parent with a young infant who has been evacuated from your home, please do the following:
When checking into a shelter or temporary housing, tell the staff if you know of any special needs or health problems your baby has.
If your young infant needs prescription or over the counter medicine, and you have them, give them as directed.
If you don't have your infant's medicine with you, ask health care providers at the shelter for assistance in getting it.
Make sure your baby gets plenty of breast milk or formula.
Keep your baby away from areas where there is smoke or fumes, and stay indoors if possible.
The Stress and Trauma of Wildfires
Wildfires are particularly stressful because they can be fast moving, unpredictable, and can cause massive damage. Evacuation orders may happen with very short notice, forcing people to make important decisions in very little time.
Because wildfires typically affect a large
region, there is also social and community disruption. It can be difficult to purchase materials needed for repairs, and skilled workers may have long waiting lists for their services. But there is also support that comes from going through a shared event.
Wildfires are experienced collectively and therefore people are connected and can help each other cope. During the event itself we often hear stories of heroes who put their lives at risk to help strangers. Following the event, fire survivors are surrounded by others who can understand what they experienced as everyone is moving through the event at the same time. Support can also come from the public through fundraising efforts, outsiders volunteering to find ways to help, and FEMA's practical assistance.
Given the damage and disruption that can occur after a major fire, it is not surprising that almost everyone has symptoms in the immediate aftermath. The initial relief to be alive may be followed by distress, fear, and anger.
Disaster survivors may find it hard to stop thinking about what happened, have trouble sleeping, or feel keyed up or on edge. For most people those reactions will lessen over the first few weeks. For those who lost a loved one, were injured, or are homeless, those reactions may be more intense and longer-lasting.
In addition to the immediate problems fires cause, there are additional stressors that can make it difficult to get on with life:
Days or weeks may pass before evacuees can get back to their homes to even assess the damage.
Rebuilding takes money, time, materials, and workers---all of which can be in short supply.
Families may take in relatives while they look for other housing, which can be stressful for everyone.
People may be out of work if their employers are rebuilding or if they cannot make it to their jobs.
Parents may have to enroll children in new schools if the family was forced to relocate.
New physical health problems from injuries or air quality factors may need attention and pre-existing health problems can be made worse by stress.
Wildfires may also occur many times in a person's life, if they remain in a community that is prone to fires. A strong connection to place can be both a strength and a vulnerability in someone who lives in a community that is prone to disasters. And because fires are relatively common in some areas, fire trucks, sirens, or even high winds can serve as regular reminders of memories well after the event.
Coping after a Wildfire: Immediate Needs
After a severe wildfire, people's reactions, needs and priorities will vary depending on many factors. When the fire has caused injury, threat to life, evacuation or displacement, large-scale damage, separation from loved ones, extreme loss, or perception of ongoing health risks, people may require more psychosocial support because they are more likely to be significantly distressed.
In the immediate aftermath of any disaster, most people have a core set of priorities that are related to five key needs:
Reestablishing a sense of safety
Regaining control and calm
Connecting with loved ones and others
Getting through the crisis
Feeling hope, optimism, faith, or the belief that things will work out
In general, anything you can do to help yourself or others move towards reestablishing a sense of safety, calm, connectedness, and hope can support recovery. Keep in mind that feelings of distress in the aftermath of disasters cannot be resolved by a single act or a simple fix.
But there are some important principles to remember:
There's no "right way" to deal with these things. We each need to find the way that works for us, and be patient in applying simple, ongoing strategies.
Talk when you need to; listen when you can. It sometimes helps to hear the perspectives of other people who share your values and experiences. Take what helps and leave the rest.
You don't have to talk when you don't feel like it. Survivors sometimes do better when they are given space. If you are the loved one of a survivor, respect the survivor's desire not to talk if that is what they want. Give them space, and check back later.
Resilience often means rolling with the punches. Disasters highlight the forces in life that are much bigger than we are, and remind us that there's only so much we can do.
Social support is key. Positive social support plays a crucial role in helping people recover from threat, trauma, and adversity. Reconnect with those you feel closest to, or reach out to others who have had similar experiences or who are caring and wise.
Give it time. Resilience means that you bounce back in the time; it doesn't mean that you never feel the impact of traumatic events. Learning to accommodate the things you experience is a continual process.
Coping after a Wildfire: Long-Term Needs
Most people who experience fires will recover. Having symptoms in the immediate aftermath does not mean that you will have symptoms forever. People who lost a love one, were injured, or became homeless are more likely to have longer-term reactions.
Recovering can take time, and it may require you to learn how to adapt in new ways. What you need in the long term may be different from what helped you immediately after the event. Here are some strategies to help you continue to recover over time.
Strategies for Managing Ongoing Distress
As time moves on, if you still feel distressed or have trouble functioning, it is important to continue with general self-care activities. But you may also want include some of the following strategies:
Safety: to lessen worries, it can help to stay focused on specific routines of day-to-day living.
Media Viewing: turn off the television if watching coverage of the event is increasing your distress.
Problem-Solving: take an active, problem-solving approach to ongoing challenges by breaking problems into smaller chunks, brainstorming solutions, and planning for simple, achievable steps towards solutions.
Positive Activities Scheduling: try to engage in positive, healthy, or meaningful activities. Doing things that are enjoyable, even if you don't feel like it, can make you feel better.
Volunteering: volunteer work may also be a way to find meaning in helping others and building relationships with people who share your interests and values.
Managing Emotions: look for positive coping strategies that help you manage your emotions. Listening to music, exercising, practicing breathing routines, talking with others, spending time in nature or with animals, journaling, or reading inspirational texts are some simple ways to help manage overwhelming or distressing emotions.
Social Support: spend time with people who give you a sense of security, calm, or happiness, or those who you feel you can support.
Helpful Thinking: reframe or divert your attention by practicing acceptance, prayer, or mindfulness. You can also use humor, or try to think through the costs and benefits of holding onto negative thoughts or behaviors and then practice more helpful ways of thinking or acting.
Meaning Making: reflect positively on people or aspects of life that you may have lost. Try to find meaningful ways to honor that loss, either on your own or through contact with others. You can also shift your expectations about what is considered a "good day," and reconfirm the people, values, and goals in your life that you realize are most important to you.
There is no standard timeline for recovering from a wildfire. Depending on how much the fire impacted you, it may take a long time to feel better. If you can develop your own ways of adapting to ongoing events and situations, you may gain a stronger sense of being able to deal challenges, a greater sense of meaning or purpose, or an ability mentor and support others in similar situations.
When to Consider Professional Help
If you are distressed, or unable to function well, consider seeking help.
There are competent and caring professionals available who can effectively treat the most common responses to wildfires, like depression, anxiety, PTSD, and complicated grief. The most effective treatments give you tools to problem-solve, mourn and make sense of what happened, deal with numbness or intense emotions, and foster resilience. It is a good idea to try meeting with a mental health professional at least once. The sooner you get help, the sooner you will feel better.
For those in need of more intensive services, research supports trauma-focused psychotherapy for PTSD as an effective treatment following disaster. Trauma-focused psychotherapy is a broad term that refers to several specific psychotherapies for PTSD.
"Trauma-focused" means that the treatment focuses on the memory of the traumatic event and its meaning. Trauma-focused psychotherapies use different techniques to help you process your traumatic experience. For example, some involve visualizing, talking, or thinking about the traumatic memory. Others focus on changing unhelpful beliefs about the trauma.
Celebrate being a dad (or uncle, or grandpa...) every month at our Dad and Me outings, held at fun venues around the county!
This month join us for bowling! Enjoy a snack, story-time and a free book to bring home.
Saturday, July 28, 10:00am - 12:00pm. See theFLYER with all the information.
Save the fourth Saturday of every month for more outings held at fun venues around the county. Story time, a snack and a free book are provided each month!
Thank you to everyone participating and learning more about ASQ's (Ages & Stages Questionnaire)! We've had a great response and feel that this tool is one way of helping families understand where their children are at developmentally and will give them the best start in life.
Through our Quality for Kids initiative we have been offering ASQ's at all playgroups, the Camanche School Readiness Program, through various child care providers, the Baby Welcome Wagon, and at the library's science Saturday event.
If you are curious about your child's social and emotional development, or would like to learn more about ASQ's,
give us a call! 257-1092
How can you give kids the best start in life?
One of the most important factors for early intervention services, is the early and accurate identification of infants and young children who may have developmental delays or disabilities.
The Ages & Stages Questionnaires (ASQ) are screening tools designed
to be completed by parents or primary caregivers, that encourage parent-caregiver involvement. Each questionnaire can be completed in 10-20 minutes, and is divided into five areas: Communication, Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Problem Solving, and Personal-Social. The benefit for all children and families is so that parents/caregivers know which areas they can focus on at home with their children.
For more information, please call First 5 Amador at 257-1092.
Would you like to improve the quality of care you offer to children in your family child care home, preschool setting, or other early learning environment?
Give us a call at First 5 and find out about the many resources (and incentives!) available to you, (209) 257-1092.
Your Mental Health Matters
The Mental Health Services Act (MHSA)
Annual Update for Fiscal Year 18/19 is requiredunder Welfare and Institutions Code Section 5847 and serves as a comprehensive report for all of MHSA programs and expenditures.
County behavioral health departments must use community input to inform and create the plan. The input we receive as a result of the Community Planning Process will provide the foundation for programming and budgeting for the next year.
In order to effectively reach all key stakeholders, we have developed a survey to be widely dispersed for completion. Please complete the survey and encourage others to do the same. The link to the survey is listed below. The survey is also attached to this e-mail. Additionally, hard copies will be available in the lobby at Amador County Behavioral Health Services and also at various community meetings. It is requested that all surveys, whether completed electronically or by hard copy, be submitted by the close of business by the July 27 deadline.
It is anticipated that the draft MHSA Annual Update will be ready for public comment and review in mid-September. A public hearing regarding the plan is scheduled at the Amador County Behavioral Health Advisory Board meeting on October 17, 2018 at 3:30 p.m. at the Health and Human Services Building in Conference Room E. If you have any questions, concerns or comments, please contact me.
Thank you so much for your time and input regarding MHSA and mental health programs in Amador County!
1. Mix the yogurt and honey together until well combined. Add the cranberries and raisins and stir again.
2. Line a baking tray with foil and pour the yogurt mixture on top. Spread it depending on how thick or thin you want your bark to be. About 1/2 inch thick is good.
3. Sprinkle the strawberries, chocolate chips and shredded coconut on top and place in the freezer for 2-4 hours or until it is completely frozen.
Remove from the freezer and use a sharp knife to break the bark into pieces.
The bark can be stored in the freezer in food bags.
One day, California's success
will be measured by the
well-being of its youngest children.
Calling all children 0 to 5 years of age.
Join Amador's favorite reading club!
Over 800 Amador kids and counting! Get free books for your children! Sign your child up today and start receiving one free book every month from the Imagination Library! This is a free program, available to all Amador County children aged 0-4 (from birth until their 5th birthday).
So ... what should you talk about? Anything and everything. Describe the pattern of circles on a blanket. Count the number of blocks on the floor. Listen to the noisy garbage truck outside. Talk about the whirring sound of the blender. What did you do at work today? What will you have for dinner tonight? Engage in conversation. Look into your baby's eyes and watch his reactions as you talk. Remember, it really doesn't matter what you talk about - and it also doesn't matter if your baby is too young to understand. His brain is developing with every word. Knowing more than one language offers countless benefits for your kids - including expanding their future career opportunities. You don't have to speak a language perfectly. The most important thing is to introduce them to it.
Read... them a book, it's very smart.
What is one of the most powerful things you can do with your baby? Read! Start early, and read every day from birth onward to establish a rewarding habit early in life. A great tip to keep in mind is to read WITH your child. Use funny voices, point out and describe pictures, and ask questions as you go along. These simple actions not only will help hold your child's interest, but it'll spark imagination and curiosity - even at a very young age.
Don't have enough hours in the day to read? We get it. Just a few minutes a day can have an impact. Reading shopping lists, recipes, road signs, and labels together all count, too. You're doing your best, and your child will thank you for it later.
Sing... them a song, it's a wonderful start.
Music is a great way to help babies learn new words, boost language comprehension, and establish rhythm and rhyme. When you sing to your baby, you're forming a special bond together just by the sound of your voice. Singing is also a great activity for the whole family. Sing old favorites and new tunes together, and help build deeper family bonds between older siblings and grandparents too. Remember, it doesn't matter if you can't carry a tune. In your baby's eyes, you are a singing superstar. Sneak in songs during breakfast, in the car, or during bath time. From nursery rhymes to your own favorite playlist, turn up the volume and sing together. It's one of the greatest expressions of your love!
It's Our Job as Adults to Keep Kids Safe
Stay up to date on all the news and information about keeping our kids safe from abuse and neglect. Sign up for the Amador Child Abuse Prevention Council's monthly e-newsletter HERE!