When Tutu or Madame Pele creates, we are blessed with the growth of our ‘aīna. However, the gases she emits can be detrimental to many when our beautiful Hawaiian skies are filled with vog (volcanic smog).

I visited Kīlauea several years ago with my hula sisters for the Merrie Monarch Festival. Walking toward the crater to bear ho‘okupu (offering) for Tutu Pele, my lungs suddenly tightened up and I was literally gasping for air. I struggled back to our bus, where I used my rescue inhaler and did some deep breathing exercises. Just the tiny bit of sulfur emitted almost sent me to the hospital.

What does vog mean for folks with respiratory problems? Above all, keep all your meds in an area that you can easily access, including within arm’s reach at your bedside. Keep extra rescue inhalers in your car, at work, and in your purse.

Take extra precautions to ensure you stay healthy, take your medications and drink lots of water. If you are a nebulizer user, be sure to have enough inhaler solution. Keep tubing and attachments clean and ready.

Be open with your family and loved ones about how important it is to be prepared. Tell them what you need if you are ever in respiratory distress. If traveling, research emergency rooms ahead of time.

And try to stay away from the vog!

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