KNOXVILLE (WATE) – An air quality alert remains in effect for Knoxville and parts of East Tennessee, leaving many people with respiratory issues struggling to breathe.
“Every time I go outside I have to come back in because it’s always smoky,” Kylee Hamby, 8, said.
Hamby wants to be a kid, doing things like running around with her friends and playing on the playground.
“Every time I’m out at school I just sit down because I usually can’t run around,” she said. “I usually just swing or slide and that’s it.”
However, the poor air quality, combined with her asthma, is making being a kid pretty hard, even walking to school is becoming a challenge amid the code orange air alert issued in East Tennessee.
“When we go to school, just walking from the car to the school, she starts wheezing and coughing,” Heather Barger, Kylee’s mother, said. “I mean her asthma is horrible.”
TEMA declared a state of emergency due to the on-going drought and wildfires affecting the area.
“I go outside at 5 o’clock in the morning and all I can see is smoke, and it smells horrible,” Amanda Fritts said.
For people with respiratory problems, like 9 month old Jacob Fritts, they are feeling the effects.
“It makes me feel really bad, because he loves to play outside, but with the smoke and everything, he can’t really be outside,” Fritts said.
Medical professionals in East Tennessee said they have seen a spike in patients with trouble breathing.
“Typically we tell them to limit outdoor activities, make sure they’re taking their respiratory medicine exactly as prescribed,” Ashley Heinz, Nurse Practitioner, said. “And then if they find that they’re having increased symptoms, needing their rescue medications more frequently, then they should make an appointment with their health care provider.”
And for parents of children struggling to breathe, they said they can only hope the air quality improves soon.
“I mean this is the worst it’s been,” Barger said.