Wild Fires and Your Voice

Here in California, wild fires season gets longer every year.  Each time the fires get close to L.A. County, voice clients ask how to cope with the smoke that turns our sky such an eerie yellow-gray. Here are my suggestions:

SHOULD I STILL WARM UP?

If you don’t have chronic breathing or heart problems, and you’re not feeling shortness of breath from the smoke, an abbreviated, gentle warmup of body, breath, and voice is probably OK.

If you feel ANY unusual nose or throat irritation, assume that your vocal cords are slightly inflamed as well, and don’t sing as loud, as high, or as long as usual.

Don’t push or strain to try to sound “normal;” you’ll just bruise your cords further, and learn bad habits. Do expect your breath to feel weak, so plan shorter phrases (refill more often).

I MAY HAVE TO EVACUATE MY HOME. HOW CAN I FOCUS ON MY VOICE?

Life and family come first of course! When preparing for possible evacuation, don’t forget your musical instruments and copies of important demo recordings or mastering discs, along with the recommended supplies, prescription meds, legal & medical documents, and computer backups.

I FEEL OK AND SAFE BUT STRESSED.

Keep your daily routine as normal as possible. Keep up intake of high-nutrition foods, with extra stress-relief supplements like vitamin B, C+flavinoids, multi-minerals, and plant-based anti-inflammatories. See the other health tips below.

If you feel better taking action, call artist friends in even riskier areas, to offer storage for their musical instruments & libraries, pets, or to help packing their stuff.

I’M JUST FEELING WIPED OUT FROM THE HEAT AND SMOKY AIR.

If you’re not up to normal voice practice, you can still do mental practice (imagine warming up and singing with perfect technique); memorize scripts and songs; or take care of the paperwork you otherwise procrastinate.

MANAGING ALLERGIES

from http://www.allergyconsumerreview.com/asthma-smoke-allergy.html

The congestion following smoke exposure is not so much an allergic response as an inflammatory one. To support the protective tissues of nose, throat, & lungs: Drink lots of tea (hot or cold). Decaffeinated tea is fine; chicken soup is also helpful. Drink enough of any liquids so that the urine turns light.

Use a liquid nasal moisturizer, preservative free if possible, as a spray to cleanse the nose and in gel or mist form to moisten the nose. Or rinse your nose using a Neti pot (or the nasal attachment on a dental irrigator, pulsing setting), with a solution of 1/2 tsp non-iodized salt (pickling salt is recommended) to 1 cup warm water.

GENERAL HEALTH RECOMMENDATIONS

  http://www.lungusa.org/site/pp.asp?c=dvLUK9O0E&b=36064

The American Lung Association says “remain indoors and avoid inhalation of smoke, ashes, and particulate matter in the area. Ordinary dust masks, designed to filter out large particles, will not help…refrain from exercising outdoors, especially if you smell smoke or notice eye or throat irritation….When driving your car in smoky areas, keep your windows and vents closed. Air conditioning should only be operated in the “recirculate” setting.”

“FEELING THE FIRE”

End of October, the canyons were burning

Arson and wind stir a terrible flame

Orange tornadoes and animals running

None of our memories are ever the same

….

Fire and Air, Earth and Water

Changes will come from one or another

Where do you stand when your life is reeling?

Feeling the fire, holding your ground

Till the healing waters come down

Feeling the fire, holding your ground

Till the healing waters come down

(c) Joanna Cazden 1993, on Living Through History CD (p) 1997

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