“Mom, How Do I Get out of This?”

This was the question from my daughter. She and some friends were planning a group date (which apparently is how you date these days), and she was worried about the activities. When I was her age…..a guy called up a girl and asked if she wanted to go to the movies. Boom. Done.

But now they just “hang out” or go on group dates. And what might be okay for a few of those in the group may not work for everyone.

Air Quality Concerns

Like many parts of the country, our valley is full of smoke. Lots of smoke. Not content to just muddy the skies with our own forest fires, we get to add California fires to the mix.

And it’s bad. In fact, at one point, our air reached the “purple” range on the AQI (Air Quality Index.)

The AQI ranks air quality with 6 categories of health concerns. They are:

  1. Green (good)
  2. Yellow (moderate)
  3. Orange (unhealthy for sensitive groups)
  4. Red (unhealthy)
  5. Purple (very unhealthy)
  6. Maroon (hazardous)

For most of the summer, when our air quality wasn’t at the purple level, it was “red”. Red means the air is “unhealthy” and: “Everyone may begin to experience some adverse health effects, and members of the sensitive groups may experience more serious effects.1 (The sensitive group includes children, older adults and those with lung or heart disease.)

This group of college-aged kids wanted to plan an outdoor activity in the canyon. Normally, we can escape to the canyons in our nearby mountains and we are able to get above the pollution since the mountains are at a higher elevation. Not this time. There was no safe place in the state.

If an outdoor activity with red air quality wasn’t bad enough, they wanted to build a campfire and make s’mores. She knew immediately that wasn’t going to work for her.

Forest fire smoke + campfire = possibility of an ER visit. (When she was younger, she was hospitalized 6 times – courtesy of pneumonia and asthma.) So she didn’t want to put herself in a dangerous situation.

Asthma and smoke are not a good mix.

Her friends know she has asthma, so how does she let them know of her concerns (without getting embarrassed?)

Being your own asthma advocate

“What should I do?” She asked.

Because of my job, I’ve been on the multiple news outlets all week educating the public about the dangers of air quality.

I suggested she take a screenshot of the air quality app and so her friends could see that the air quality was red, and the health warning shows that it’s “unhealthy for EVERYONE”, not just those with asthma.

So, she sent a screenshot to the group text and explained her concerns.

And….they all wisely decided that this was the time to plan an indoor group date. Whew!

I’m glad she had the courage to stand up for herself (and not have to end the night using her nebulizer, that would be a fun date!)

Many kids and adolescents find it hard to advocate for their health. And many still find it hard as adults.

Anyone have an awkward moment trying to protect your health due to asthma?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
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