Friday, August 4, 2017

Smoke on the water, smoke in your eyes, what are you doing Friday at 5?

 Wildfire smoke can come on suddenly and last from hours to weeks. I’m sure you’ve noticed that Washington is currently smothered in smoke from the British Columbia wildfires.

If you’re planning on being outside this weekend, we’ve got some important safety tips for you.

Check for burn bans

There are multiple burn bans across the state right now. Before you go camping or have ANY kind of fire, check to see if your area is under a burn ban. Recreational fires and the use of charcoal grills are banned in many areas. There are too many health and safety risks from all the smoke and high temperatures!

Health effects from smoke exposure

The smoke you see is made up of small particulate matter, called PM2.5. Even if you are healthy, it can affect you. Watch for symptoms that include:

  • Itchy eyes and throat.
  • Coughing.
  • Headache.
  • Nausea.
  • Sneezing.
  • Difficulty breathing.
If you have children, are pregnant, elderly, or have any kind of respiratory or cardiovascular disease you are particularly susceptible to these symptoms. 

If air quality is unhealthy in your area, stay indoors with the windows closed and limit your outdoor activity. Consider mowing the lawn, or jogging, another day when the air has cleared. If you must be outside you can purchase an N95 mask at a local hardware store.

Now you can monitor air quality on the go!

The Environmental Protection Agency just released the Android version of the Smoke Sense app that lets you: 

  • Monitor air quality in your area.
  • Log your health symptoms if you’re in a smoky area.
  • Learn how air pollution affects your health.
When you use this app, you’re helping EPA study how exposure to wildfire smoke affects public health and productivity, and how they can communicate those risks to you.

Download the app from the Google Play Store or visit the EPA website to learn more (iPhone app coming soon).

Have a great weekend and be safe out there!

By Kim Allen and Miriam Duerr| Air Quality

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