While increased humidity and light showers help reduce fire dangers, these conditions won’t clear our air.
A vast smoke plume still sits over the Pacific – smoke from fires in northern California and Oregon – and the light onshore winds we are feeling today will push more of that smoke into our communities before finally bringing cleaner air later in the week.
Air quality today (Tuesday) remains in the Unhealthy to Hazardous range on the Washington Air Quality Advisory (WAQA) scale throughout all of ORCAA’s jurisdiction. Conditions aren’t likely to start improving until Thursday or later. The National Weather Service has called an Air Quality Alert for all of Western Washington through at least mid-day Thursday.
While the smoke lingers, residents should continue to take action to minimize the health impacts of that smoke. The Washington Department of Health (DOH) offers detailed information on how residents can best deal with wildfire smoke impacts. That information can be found here.
What can I do to protect myself and my family from outdoor smoke?
- CURTAIL ALL BURNING! To reduce smoke, avoid creating any fires, including recreational fires. Every county of the state has some level of fire-safety burn ban and most ban all forms of outdoor burning, including recreational fires. But even where legal, recreational fires should NOT be ignited until fire and air quality conditions improve.
- Check local air quality reports and listen to news or health warnings for your community.
- Avoid physical exertion outdoors if smoke is in the air.
- If you have asthma or other lung diseases, make sure you follow your doctor’s directions about taking your medicines and follow your asthma management plan. Call your health care provider if your symptoms worsen.
- Stay indoors and keep indoor air as clean as possible. Take the following steps when indoors:
- Keep windows and doors closed. Track the air quality and open your windows for fresh air when the air quality improves. Pay attention to the heat indoors and follow the guidance in the section below if it’s too hot.
- Run an air conditioner, set it to re-circulate, and close the fresh-air intake. Make sure to change the filter regularly.
- Use an air cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to reduce indoor air pollution. A HEPA filter will reduce the number of irritating fine particles in indoor air. A HEPA filter with charcoal will help remove some of the gases from the smoke. Do not use an air cleaner that produces ozone. See California’s guide to indoor air devices: https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/resources/fact-sheets/air-cleaning-devices-home.
- Don’t add to indoor pollution. Don’t use food broilers, candles, incense, fireplaces, or gas stoves. Don’t vacuum unless your vacuum has a HEPA filter, because vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home. Don’t smoke, because smoking puts even more pollution into the air.
- Consider leaving the area if the air quality is poor and it’s not possible to keep indoor air clean, especially if you or those you are caring for are having health problems or are in a sensitive group.
Washington’s complete network of Air Monitoring Stations — including those managed and maintained by ORCAA — and the direct impacts of wildfire smoke can be found here: https://fire.airnow.gov/
Additional information on wildfires and smoke from wildfires is available at http://wasmoke.blogspot.com/
ORCAA will continue to monitor this possible smoke event and will report any changes of note.