Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Baker County: Watch for Unhealthy Smoke Levels
Robin Nudd, Public Health Administrator, 541-523-8211
Date of Release: August 12, 2015
Baker County health officials are urging people to watch for unhealthy smoke levels. It is important for people to be observant of the air quality during the current fire season. Local residents can take steps to avoid illness from wildfire smoke inhalation.
People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children that are not under a Level III evacuation notice are advised to stay indoors. Poor air quality conditions are a health threat and should be avoided by all residents in smoky communities. Local smoke levels can rise and fall rapidly depending on weather factors, including wind direction.
Take the following precautions to avoid breathing problems or other symptoms from smoke:
· Be aware of smoke concentrations in your area and avoid the places with highest concentrations. Use visibility to estimate air quality (attached document). Smoke levels can rise and fall rapidly depending on weather factors, including wind direction.
· Avoid smoke either by leaving the area or protecting yourself by staying indoors, and by closing windows and doors.
· Avoid strenuous outdoor activity in smoky conditions.
· Drink lots of water – staying hydrated can keep your airways moist which will help reduce symptoms of respiratory irritation such as scratchy throat, running nose, and coughing.
· People exposed to smoky conditions and who suffer from asthma or other respiratory problems should follow their breathing management plans or contact their healthcare providers.
Check DEQ’s Air Quality Index to see real-time air monitoring data from monitors placed around Oregon: http://www.deq.state.or.us/aqi/index.aspx.
If you must be outdoors, wearing a special mask called a “particulate respirator” can also help protect your lungs from wildfire smoke. Dust masks that are not NIOSH0certified may not offer protection from small particulate matter, even if properly worn. NIOSH-certified N95 respirators are masks made of filtering material that fit over the nose and mouth.
The best way to reduce your exposure to wildfire smoke is to avoid smoke either by leaving the area or protecting yourself by staying indoors, and by closing windows and doors; avoid strenuous outdoor activity in smoky conditions; people exposed to smoky conditions and who suffer from asthma and other respiratory problems should follow their breathing management plans or contact their health care providers
ESTIMATING AIR QUALITY
Conduct a visual assessment: People can conduct a visual assessment of nearby smoke to quickly get a sense of air quality levels. Generally, if you can see up to 15 miles, the air quality is probably good. If you can see less than one mile, the air quality is very unhealthy and everyone should avoid outdoor activities. Refer to the descriptions below for more information based on how far you can see in various conditions:
Between 5-15 miles: Air quality is moderate and beginning to deteriorate, and is generally healthy, except possibly for smoke sensitive persons. The general public should avoid prolonged exposure if conditions are smoky to the point where visibility is closer to the 5 mile range.
If under 5 miles: The air quality is unhealthy for young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with hearth and/or lung disease, asthma, or other respiratory illness. These people should minimize outdoor activity.
If under 3 miles: The air quality is unhealthy for everyone. Young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with hearth and/or lung disease, asthma, or other respiratory illness should AVOID all outdoor activity.
If under 1 mile: The air quality is very unhealthy, and in some cases may be hazardous. Everyone should avoid all outdoor activities.
For more information:
On using the visibility index during wildfires: www.deq.state.or.us/aq/burning/wildires/visibility.htm
On smoke and wildfires in Oregon: http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com
On wildfires and health threats from wildfire smoke: http://public.health.oregon.gov/Preparedness/Prepare/Pages/PrepareForWildfire.aspx
Posted by ODF_NEO at 10:47 PM