San Juan County’s Health & Community Services Department urges residents to take precautions to protect yourself and family members if smoke from wildfires reaches unhealthy levels. You can monitor air quality in our area and regionally using the Fire and Smoke map linked from the Washington Smoke Information Blog.
Smoke contains very small particles and gases. These particles can get into your eyes and lungs where they can cause health problems. Inhaling smoke is not good for anyone, however, people most likely to have health problems from breathing smoke include people with heart and lung diseases, people with respiratory infections, people with diabetes, stroke survivors, infants, children, pregnant people, and people over 65 years of age.
Here are steps to reduce smoke exposure:
- Limit time outside and avoid strenuous outdoor activity;
- Close windows and doors unless it is too hot to maintain safe temperatures indoors;
- Don’t add to indoor air pollution (e.g., cigarette smoking, burning candles);
- Filter indoor air (HVAC system, HEPA portable air cleaner, DIY box fan filter);
- Set air conditioner to circulate;
- Seek cleaner air elsewhere if needed and possible;
- If you must go outside, wear a properly fitted particle respirator, like a N95 mask.
It is important to monitor symptoms of smoke exposure. Symptoms include burning eyes, coughing, throat and nose irritation, headaches, fatigue, wheezing and shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, and chest pain. If your symptoms become serious seek medical attention immediately.