Transcript of "Playing with Fire"
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There's a chunk of every summer that has some wildfire smoke in the air. As a child care provider we have to monitor that and make sure that kids are only going outside when it's safe for them. My name is Marmot Snetzinger and this is Little Twigs Child Care. As young as two years old, two and a half, we do a lot of talking about the weather. They understand that we can't go outside, it's not healthy for our lungs. With the younger kids they just don't understand why we didn't take them out on a walk that day so yeah I think it kind of throws their whole schedule off don't stop developing until they're adults and so when you're introducing a pollutant to those little developing lungs you have the opportunity to make things worse than if they were fully developed a lot of people in Montana now anticipate a wildfire smoke season we can see smoke coming to Western Montana from a huge part of the country and Canada so even if we don't have fires locally someone somewhere is going to catch on fire and there's a good chance that smoke is going to make its way into Western Montana [Music] fire smoke is essentially a chemical stew there are literally hundreds of chemicals in Wildfire smoke food we're most concerned about are the really tiny particles and smoke that when you inhale them can bypass irony natural defenses can really deep into your lung it can even pass into a bloodstream we have multiple studies out of California where they're seeing age groups admissions to hospitals for asthma related complications during a smoke event the greatest percentage of increase is in the very small children zero one and zero to four compared if there wasn't smoke present so you see like over 100 increase in the amount of kids going to emergency department with asthma complications than if they're heading up in smoke we had a couple of babies that actually ended up in the hospital uh one of them just ended up in the hospital for two days this last big wave of smoke that we had and they could see they did a scan and they could see that he definitely had some issues going on with his lungs from the the smoke other kids have had just headaches and it's been hard from they just feel headachy and don't feel good one of the most significant the impacts on climate change on our Wildfire seasons is just how long the seasons can last when a fire starts it's not going to go out until it snows the potential for a smoke event that can drag on for weeks and months at a time is really a public health nightmare it's crazy making to try to find things for the kids to do and provide the space that they need to run around and get the exercise they need when we can't go outside it can be hard for kids to be inside when it's summer and it can actually increase anxiety for parents I'm Amy sullenberg and I'm the executive director at climate smart Missoula so we're a local non-profit we work on all things climate change related mitigation adaptation building resilient community and just building momentum for climate action research has really been in the last handful of years where people have realized that that smoke comes indoors and that any little bit of air pollution matters there's ways to actually clean our indoor air that aren't too expensive that aren't impossible we got some HEPA portable air cleaners or air purifiers they're anywhere from you know 100 to you know many more hundreds of dollars we did some testing and basically they work you can clean a room really pretty quickly by plugging it in for a couple hours and and really reducing the amount of air pollution so the people that have the means we just recommend hey go out and get HEPA air filters we also recognize from the get-go that not every family or individual has the means to just purchase a you know HEPA air filter so could we actually give them to folks that are most in need we ended up having a little bit of funding to do that our community stepped in and over the years when there's been bad smoke events or years where we're seeing a lot of wildfire smoke we've accepted donations and then we would give those out to folks along with the health department we've realized that putting a filter and just duct taping it connecting to a box fan is also a really effective way to clean the indoor air and that arrow is the airflow Arrow you want to put that on the back of the fan so that it's pointing towards the fan and you want to just grab some tape tape it right on and so that's been some of our programs too with limited funds we've been able to put together with you know 25 30 a box fan and a filter and a lot of families can you know come up with that money and have a filter that they can move around in their homes I've been preparing knowing that the Wildflower smoke will be a part of our lives and part of these kids lives for a very long time we started renovating the garage out back it's got air filtration and a little bit of cooling so when we have really bad days so they can go out there and still play climate smart was one of the people that helped us get filters and then I I just as an independent provider decided that we really needed a larger space and I haven't been able to find funding for that so that that retrofitting of the garage space for filtration was just an expense that I thought was really important to put money towards one of the things that our community is doing more and more of is is helping people with the tools to be able to talk about climate change and how it affects our community our families moving forward so you get you know youth in middle school and high school and and University that are actually you know really fearful about what their future is I know for a lot of kids it actually feels really good to be part of the solution of a problem they see and that that can happen with any age kids you know giving them an opportunity to grow their own food or reduce waste or get around on a bicycle and be part of climate Solutions has everybody feeling better the big thing is to realize that this is a very long-range thing for them climate change is going to affect these kids a lot as far as just extreme climate so whether it's drought and Wildfire smoke or whether it's big storms that they have to deal with but and you know not the availability of water so it's definitely going to be affecting these kids you know I raised a child here and when she was young I was worried about her lungs and the Wildfire Smoke and Things have only gotten worse as far as how much smoke we have in this in the Summers and for these kids for the little babies I know that if they're going to live in the west this is going to be a lifetime of smoke and so we're just the beginning their lives in these first three years are really really important and what the foundation of their health is and so I want to do everything I can to provide a healthy place for them.