Joint Release: Wildfire Smoke Affects Air Quality Near Williams Lake Fire – Spokane Regional Health | Hot Mobile Press

Media contacts:

Lisa Woodard, Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency | 509.863.2463, LWoodard@SpokaneCleanAir.org
Kelli Hawkins, Spokane Regional Health District | 509.994.8968, khawkins@srhd.org

SPOKANE, Wash. — Air quality, particularly in the vicinity of the Williams Lake fire, is in the unhealthy zone of the Air Quality Index as of 10:35 a.m. this morning. Air quality forecasters from the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency (Spokane Clean Air) warn that smoke from fires, including the ongoing fires in southern BC, could enter the Spokane area today and tomorrow.

“We forecast the air quality in the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups/Orange for today and tomorrow, depending on wind and fire activity,” said Scott Windsor, executive director of Spokane Clean Air. “Especially during wildfire season, it’s important for individuals to review current air quality conditions because conditions can change rapidly, and take action They are taking the necessary steps to protect their health,” Windsor added.

dr Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) Health Officer Francisco Velázquez added: “Smoke can affect anyone. Those most at risk of smoking should make sure their medication is on hand and contact their doctor if necessary.”

Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups/Orange: Vulnerable groups, as defined below, should take steps to reduce their exposure: limit time outdoors, avoid strenuous outdoor activities and follow tips for cleaner indoor air (see below). Everyone should watch for symptoms to reduce exposure.

sensitive groups This includes people who are most likely to experience health problems from smoke inhalation, including:

  • Individuals with or recovering from COVID-19
  • People with lung diseases (asthma, COPD, bronchitis, emphysema)
  • people with respiratory infections
  • People with existing heart or circulatory problems
  • People with a history of heart attack or stroke
  • Infants and children under 18
  • Older adults (over 65 years)
  • Pregnant woman
  • people who smoke
  • people with diabetes

Symptoms of smoke exposure can be mild to severe, including coughing, itchy throat, irritated sinuses, burning eyes and runny nose, shortness of breath, chest pain, and headache. If you have heart or lung disease, smoking can make your symptoms worse. People with heart disease may experience chest pain, a fast or irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, and fatigue.

If you have a pre-existing respiratory condition such as asthma, COPD (including chronic bronchitis and emphysema), or allergies, smoking can make symptoms worse (inability to breathe normally, coughing with or without phlegm, chest discomfort, wheezing and shortness of breath). ). See a doctor if you experience severe symptoms, such as chest pain or trouble breathing. Call 911 for emergency assistance if symptoms are severe.

Smoke and COVID Symptoms: Some respiratory symptoms such as cough, sore throat and difficulty breathing are common to both wildfire smoke and the COVID-19 virus.

Symptoms unique to COVID-19 These include an increase in the severity of the cough, new loss of taste or smell,

nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, fever. If you experience any of these symptoms, even if they seem minor, you should get tested for COVID-19. Free at-home tests can be ordered from the testing section at covid.srhd.org.

Steps to reduce smoke exposure:

  • Limit the duration and intensity of outdoor physical activity.
  • Stay indoors with clean indoor air
  • Close windows and doors unless it is too hot to maintain safe temperatures.
  • Do not contribute to indoor air pollution, such as B. by smoking cigarettes or burning candles.
  • Filter indoor air through an HVAC system, a portable HEPA air purifier, or a DIY box fan filter.
  • Set the air conditioning to recirculate.
  • If you cannot maintain clean air at home, go somewhere else for cleaner air, e.g.
  • If you must be outdoors, wear a properly fitted, NIOSH-approved respirator, e.g. B. an N95 mask.

For more information and resources on wildfire smoke and your health:

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