By Ryan Hill

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The smoke filling the air and lungs of many people in Sacramento is not only annoying but also dangerous.

“The fires are really what kind of put me over,” Sunny McCall, who lives near Land Park, said.

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It’s hitting McCall’s family in more ways than one.

“It’s a fabulous place to get out and get out the wiggles. I have a four-year-old and a seven-year-old and now we can’t do that,” McCall said. “Because I feel like I’m putting them in jeopardy because the air quality is so bad.”

Take working from home, children distance-learning and add in toxic air. For many, it turned a difficult situation into unbearable.

“It’s a war zone,” McCall said. “It feels like I have a toolbox to lean on if I get really frustrated and I have found even myself struggling.”

Other parents are feeling that struggle too.


“It’s a difficult time for everybody with young kids, of course, you know, especially the toddler,” Manoj Mittal, another parent, said.

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Sacramento County’s Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye told CBS13 the smoke is difficult for those with lung conditions, heart disease and those 65 and older. Breathing it in can lead to uncontrollable cough and sometimes heart attacks. The recommendation is to find a way to do physical exercise inside to get the same feeling you would outside.

But how can you cope mentally without the great outdoors and being fed up with stuck in all too familiar indoors?

“It really comes down to the different skills that you’re using in your own resiliency plan,” Dr. Ryan Quist, Sacramento County Behavioral Health Services Director, said.

Quist told CBS13 routine and resiliency are key when it comes to this kind of stress.

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“I have an exercise routine in my bedroom that I do because I can’t go outside. Things like this that you need to keep on developing in order to have a plan for stressful events,” Quist said.

Planning and structure are critical for many during this pandemic as people try to find the silver lining through the smoke.

“When the air quality is better, the idea to just pause for a moment and just say, ‘Oh my gosh a month ago we did this everyday as like a quick break,’ Now I think we can say, ‘We are so fortunate,’” McCall said.

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The county’s top mental health expert is also encouraging people to make at least three meaningful connections a day during this pandemic. That way they can check on their loved ones and communicate about their daily struggles.