Despite the thunder and lightning earlier this week, we thankfully haven’t seen much smoke in Washington skies yet this year. All it takes is one spark, though, so ask yourself: Are you #SmokeReady? Here are 10 tips to help you prepare:
• Plan ahead with your doctor: If you or a family member has asthma, or suffers from heart or lung disease, have a plan to manage your condition. Children, pregnant women, and people over age 65 are especially at risk during smoke events. Learn more.
• Get HEPA filters, recirculate your AC, and share space: Use a HEPA filter in your home’s central air system or your air conditioner unit or air purifier. Learn how to turn your AC to “recirculate” in both your home and your car. Also, check with your neighbors. If you or your neighbor doesn’t have good air filtration or air conditioning at home, arrange to share spaces with those who do.
• Employers, plan ahead with your employees: Have a plan in place for employees who work outdoors. Consider alternate work assignments or relocation to reduce employee exposure to smoke. For staff that work indoors, ensure your air filtration system is protective for smoke. Prepare for employees to face childcare closures, home emergencies, etc. Check with Washington Labor & Industries for guidance.
• Have a Plan B for outdoor events: Have a contingency plan prepared in case you need to cancel, reschedule, or move an outdoor event indoors. (Make sure the indoor venue has good air filtration!) If you have children in summer camps or childcare, ask the organizers about their smoke plan. Check with your county health department about cancellation guidelines.
• Buy a respirator mask: If you’ll be outdoors long enough to need a mask, check into an N95 or N100 respirator now. Plan ahead to ensure it's properly fitted. Masks do not work for everyone, though, so test the fit and comfort before you need it. Updated for 2020-2021: Washington Dept. of Health's guidance on protecting yourself from wildfire smoke during the the COVID-19 pandemic includes mask info.
• Stock up: Have several days of water, groceries, and family needs on hand so you don’t have to go out when it’s smoky.
• Don’t forget your pets: If the air quality is forecasted to be poor while you’re away from home, plan ahead to keep your pets inside or with a caregiver. Learn more.
• Learn the air quality index numbers and colors: During periods of poor air quality, watch for air quality alerts, pay attention to numbers and colors of air quality monitors, and know when to limit your time outdoors.
• Get alerts: Sign up to receive air quality email alerts for your zip code. Also, bookmark or subscribe to this blog for statewide air quality and wildfire updates.
• Become an expert!: Learn more about being Smoke Ready at EPA’s Smoke-Ready Toolbox for Wildfires and Washington Department of Health’s Smoke From Wildfires Toolkit.
Welcome to the Washington Smoke blog, a partnership between state, county, and federal agencies, and Tribes. We coordinate to collectively share info for Washington communities affected by wildfire smoke. If the air monitoring map doesn't display here, links to additional monitoring maps can be found under the 'Monitoring & Forecasting' tab.
Friday, June 28, 2019
Information - June 28: Be Smoke Ready!
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It would be helpful to modify these suggestions in light of the Corona virus. Most of these are not viable with social distancing and N95 and N100 masks are for healthcare workers only.ReplyDelete
Thanks for your timely comment, Alyssa. Exposure to air pollution like smoke can worsen symptoms of COVID-19, so it’s more important than ever to take steps to protect yourself and your family during smoke season. Certainly, you want to be careful and maintain social distance if wildfire smoke forces you to move activities indoors this summer.Delete
Washington Department of Health will be addressing that very topic on this blog next week, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, they've included some brief info on their Smoke From Fires webpage. https://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/AirQuality/SmokeFromFires
Here too are some FAQs from federal agencies:
Be safe! - Kari