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Pagosa Springs
Saturday, November 27, 2021

Protecting your health on smoky days (and nights)

By Cheryl Wilkinson
PREVIEW Columnist

Protecting our family members, animals, homes and businesses is top of the list for everyone in wildfire-prone areas. This year, we have been experiencing some very poor air quality days due to fires that are far afield from us here in southern Colorado. We can’t protect ourselves from all the effects of smoke, but we can learn more and take better care of ourselves.

People who are generally healthy may not feel much from smoke, but over a period of days the impact may range from sore throat to shortness of breath. Those who already have compromised lung capacity may experience impacts early on. Knowing what the conditions really are can help us be proactive about taking the precautions that will help us feel our best on any given day. 

Understand your risk level. Monitoring the air quality is a good place to start. Knowing what constitutes a “dangerous” level can help you make better decisions. 

“Like air pollution, wildfire smoke — and particularly the concentration of PM 2.5, or particles smaller than 2.5 microns — can affect the respiratory and cardiovascular systems,” said Colleen Reid, an environmental epidemiologist and health geographer at the University of Colorado Boulder.

A number of online resources provide real-time readings. Both sites below include local air quality data from the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division sensor located in Pagosa Springs with recommendations on what those levels may mean for your risk category.

• The Environmental Protection Agency’s site: https://fire.airnow.gov/#.

• Purple Air: https://www2.purpleair.com/. 

Health care tips 

• During poor-quality times, stay indoors, keep windows and doors closed, and turn on a fan to generate some air flow and negative pressure to help keep smoke from filtering in through small cracks. 

• If possible, use a HEPA filter indoors. 

• Use a properly fitted N95 mask when outdoors to help filter out smoke and any damaging particles.

• Use good sense — match your activity level to the day. If you can smell smoke or it is visibly smoky and hot outside, then heavy physical activity is probably not a great idea. 

• In some weather fronts, the smoke holds close to the ground at night and then clears off during the warmer daytime hours. In other cases, the smoke dissipates at night and then accumulates more during daylight hours. Look at monitor trends — you can open windows during those times that are trending cleaner to improve air circulation and cool down your space. If you have a two-story set up, opening a lower level window slightly and one or more upper windows more widely will give you the best air flow. 

Helping others 

You can take the precautions above to help yourself and still help others. If you are able to get out but know of a neighbor or a friend who has challenges when the air quality is poor, you can offer to run errands, walk their dog or water their garden. 

Our website provides information about ASI programs in Archuleta County and contact information for making reservations at The Community Café for take-out and for Meals on Wheels at: http://www.psseniors.org/.


The Community Café in the Pagosa Springs Senior Center is requesting volunteers to help with the lunch desk. Please call (970) 264-2167 to volunteer or for more information.

Meals on Wheels
volunteers needed

The Senior Center Meals on Wheels program delivers approximately 3,000 fresh and frozen meals a year. We deliver fresh Meals on Wheels five days a week (and provide frozen Meals on Wheels for weekends) to homebound Archuleta County residents to help them stay healthy and independent in their own homes. 

This program is vitally important because many seniors have little to no access to nutritious meals. They are often too frail or have health complications that prevent them from preparing meals for themselves or from using the Senior Center’s Community Café drive-thru meals pick-up site Monday though Friday. 

The Senior Center needs volunteer Meals on Wheels Drivers for one day a week (or become part of our substitute driver team). Please join us as part of our driver team and build wonderful relationships with the seniors in our community. Call (970) 264-2167.

Dishes and china

Have old dishes or china that you no longer want to use or store? The Community Café is accepting donations of old dishes or china. Please call (970) 264-2167 for more information or to donate.

Take-out meals continue at Senior Center

In order to continue providing meals, the Senior Center is offering take-out hot meals and a salad with a drive-up option under the portico at the Ross Aragon Community Center. 

These meals will be available Monday through Friday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. There is a $4 suggested donation for lunch for those age 60 and better. If you need to have your meal delivered, please call (970) 264-2167 to see if this option is available in your area. 

The cost per meal for the public age 59 and under is $8.50. The meals include a salad, hot meal, drink and dessert or bread. 

Please call (970) 264-2167 to make a reservation for pickup. We are also continuing our Meals on Wheels program. 

There will be no games, classes or presentations during this time. The staff will be available by phone. If you need to speak to a staff member, please call (970) 264-2167.

Community Café menu

Thursday, July 22 — Zuppa Toscana, carrots, breadstick with butter, milk and salad.

Friday July 23 — Salmon Wellington, butter-braised beets, milk, salad and strawberries Romanoff.

Monday, July 26 — Pasta primavera, mushroom medley, focaccia bread with butter, milk and salad.

Tuesday, July 27 — Pecan-crusted chicken with pecan cream sauce, mashed potatoes, buttered green beans, boule bread with butter, milk and salad.

Wednesday, July 28 — Pork ribs, cornbread salad, milk, salad and brownie.

Thursday, July 29 — Cod brandade, Romanesco, baguette, milk, salad and chocolate eclair.

Reservations and cancellations are required. You can make a reservation at (970) 264-2167 by 9 a.m. the morning of the day you would like to drive through and pick up a meal. 

For your convenience, you can make your reservations in advance or have a standing reservation on days you know you will always pick up. Please cancel if you cannot attend on your standing reservation days. We want to thank everyone for their support by observing our reservation policy. This helps ensure that everyone with reservations receives a meal and enables us to provide additional and healthier meals.

Due to COVID-19, food supplies have been affected. Substitutions will be made accordingly.

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