November 16, 2016

Forest Fires: 4 Tips for Protecting Your Athletes from the Fallout

By Calvin Mabry

shutterstock-athlete-firesWith the recent outbreak of fires in western North Carolina, air quality alerts have been issued to assist residents in determining their outdoor activities. According to Mary Helen Letterle, Manager with Mission Sports Medicine, “When air quality alerts reach code purple, physical activities should be moved indoors. Moving down the scale, when red, all individuals are cautioned to reduce prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors. And finally, the orange level cautions individuals with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children to avoid prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors.”

If you’re an avid outdoor athlete or have children who currently participate in outdoor athletics in western North Carolina, here are some helpful tips for navigating the air quality alerts: 

  1. If practicing outdoors, take frequent breaks and reduce your normal rate of activity
  2. Consider practicing indoors where possible
  3. If your child has asthma, a heart condition, or other underlying conditions, monitor your child more closely for exacerbated signs and symptoms and speak with your school’s Athletic Trainer to discuss safe participation in physical activity
  4. Check indoor spaces to ensure good ventilation, close any open windows, and make sure doors close properly.

“We are monitoring the air quality throughout the day and working closely with local schools, hospitals, and health departments to ensure we provide the safest environment for our athletes and staff,” states Letterle.

To determine current air quality conditions in your area, you can reference the North Carolina Air Quality Forecast Center at

For additional questions or recommendations, contact Mary Helen Letterle at (828) SPORTS1 (776-7871) or via email at

Now, athletes, including recreational athletes, can receive faster care for sports medicine injuries at the new Mission Orthopedics/Asheville Orthopaedic Associates Walk-In Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Clinic from the office located in the Mission Health Biltmore Park medical office building at 310 Long Shoals Road, Suite 200, in Arden. The Walk-In Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Clinic is available Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and no appointment is required. The Mission Orthopedics/Asheville Orthopaedic Associates – Arden office also see patients at their Concussion Clinic on Friday afternoons. To schedule an appointment, call (828) 782-9330.