Several days of hazy, smoke-filled air caused concern mid-November on the Queens campus. As smoke from the distant wildfires in the western part of the state blew into Charlotte, both students and faculty noticed the change in air quality.
School nurse Jill Perry said that at its worst on November 16th, a Wednesday, the air was unhealthy for certain susceptible people. This includes those with asthma, pregnant women, people who work or exercise outside, and those who smoke. Student-athletes, who often practice outdoors and take heavy breaths, are also at risk when the air quality is poor.
Megan Wilson, a Queens student and admissions advisor for the Hayworth School who has asthma, felt the effects of the poor air quality on that Wednesday. Wilson said, “As soon as I walked out of the house, I was coughing.” She can remember her commute was particularly bad that morning, as she was wheezing on her way to campus. While she rarely uses her inhaler, Wilson had to use it that day.
The following day, in which there was a little haze but significantly less, was much better for Wilson. While she could still smell the smoke, there was not nearly as much pressure in her chest and she wasn’t coughing near as bad. While she didn’t need to use it, she kept her inhaler on her that day just in case.
The spread of wildfires in the Fall rather than a warmer time of year is particularly bad for Wilson. Her asthma is aggravated by cold air, meaning the mornings had been particularly bad for her during that week.
As the week went on things went better for Wilson. She often had other people run errands around campus for her so she could stay inside. According to Jill Perry, this was a wise decision. In an earlier interview Perry said about poor air quality, “The best way to protect yourself is to stay indoors.”
Besides staying indoors, Perry had other advice on how to stay safe when the air quality gets bad. She says to stay hydrated and to avoid lighting candles or firewood, as both candles and burning wood only add to the particles and chemicals already in the air.