Wednesday, September 26, 2012

9/24/12 Red Cross evacuation shelter also open to people seeking better air quality

Red Cross evacuation shelter also open to people seeking better air quality

The Kittitas County Public Health Department is partnering with Kittitas County Red Cross to offer a shelter for people seeking better air to breathe.  The fire evacuation shelter at the Mercer Creek Church, 1407 N. B Street in Ellensburg, is being opened up to people who are seeking a place with better air quality than their homes.  For people who cannot temporarily re-locate to other areas with better air quality, or for people whose homes do not have indoor air circulation, the shelter may provide some relief from the smoky air. Staying indoors or relocating to a place with better air quality is the best form of protection for everyone in the current air quality conditions.  

The air quality level in Ellensburg today has been in the “unhealthy” to “very unhealthy” range.  Cle Elum saw “unhealthy” air early this morning however it improved to “moderate” later in the morning.  The range of air quality categories include good, moderate, unhealthy for sensitive groups, unhealthy, very unhealthy, and hazardous.  During conditions of unhealthy to hazardous air quality, the Kittitas County Public Health Department encourages everyone living in Kittitas County (and neighboring areas affected by smoke) to:
  • Limit outdoor activity, staying indoors if possible, 
  • Avoid outdoor physical activity,
  • Keep doors and windows closed in buildings and cars,
  • Set air conditioning to “recycle” or “recirculate,”
  • Consider spending time or re-locating temporarily to a location with better air quality if you are experiencing negative symptoms related to the air quality.  Adverse symptoms may include dizziness, headache, difficulty breathing, coughing, excessive phlegm, and nausea.  Please contact your health care provider if you experience any of these symptoms.
This recommendation applies to everyone when the air quality is in the unhealthy, very unhealthy, or hazardous range, but it is especially important for sensitive groups which include:
  • People with pre-existing lung or heart conditions such as asthma or emphysema, diabetes, or other respiratory infections;
  • People who have had a stroke;
  • Infants, children, and adults older than 65; and
  • Pregnant women.
Sensitive groups should also follow the above recommendations when the air quality is in the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” range. 

N-95 or P-100 masks can provide limited protection from the small particulate matter found in wildfire smoke if worn and fitted properly.  Bandanas (wet or dry), paper or surgical masks, or tissues held over the mouth and nose will not protect your lungs from wildfire smoke.  Individuals with heart or lung conditions should consult with their health care provider before using a mask.  Masks are not designed to fit children properly and should not be used for children as they will not provide adequate protection.  Children should be kept indoors. 

The Kittitas County Public Health Department and the Central Washington University Student Medical and Counseling Clinic have N-95 masks available to adults who are considered to be in the sensitive groups definition.  Kittitas Valley Community Hospital has masks available for people who have a prescription from their health care provider.

Updated Resources on Local Air Quality and Health:
Date:  September 24, 2012
Contact: Robin Read, Public Information Officer, 509-962-7515

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