Recent bush fires around the country, predominantly in the Cayo District, have prompted health officials to warn people of the risks for vulnerable individuals of overexposure to smoke. A release issued by the Ministry of Health today stresses that bushfires have the potential to irritate the eyes, trigger prolonged coughing spells and cause respiratory distress or breathing problems. In addition, persons with chronic lung conditions, especially asthma, are advised to avoid areas with intense smoke, if possible. However, in the event that you cannot avoid the smoke, the use of masks or wet rags may alleviate the worst effects. Also, visit the nearest health facility for respiratory support if needed. And while we have been experiencing mass smoke exposure, we cannot ignore the intense weather conditions. In this light, the Ministry also is advising the public of the following preventative measures for heat stroke: drink sufficient water, dress adequately and keep in the shade as much as possible. Red flushed skin is the first sign to look for in a person suffering from a heat stroke. Other signs include fever, seizures, headache, a rapid pulse and sometimes unconsciousness. And remember that respiratory distress and heat stroke are medical emergencies and so anyone exhibiting the signs and symptoms of either of these conditions should visit the nearest health center or hospital.