Areas of smoke transported from fires in other western states are affecting La Plata and Archuleta counties. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has issued an Air Quality Health Advisory for Wildfire Smoke for western and central Colorado. Areas of moderate to heavy smoke are expected through at least Sunday morning.
If smoke is thick or becomes thick in your neighborhood you may want to remain indoors. This is especially true for those with heart disease, respiratory illnesses, the very young, and the elderly. Consider limiting outdoor activity when moderate to heavy smoke is present. Relocating temporarily may be necessary if smoke is present indoors and making you ill. San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) advises if visibility in your neighborhood is less than five miles due to smoke, the air quality has reached levels that are potentially unhealthy. Individuals in our community should take health precautions especially if experiencing symptoms.
Tips to protect yourself:
- If you smell smoke and/or are beginning to experience symptoms, consider temporarily relocating to another area as long as it is safe for you to do so.
- Seek out locations where air is filtered.
- Close windows and doors and stay inside. However, do not close up your home tightly if it makes it dangerously warm inside.
- Only if they are filtered, run the air conditioning, your evaporative cooler, or the fan feature on your home heating system (with the heat turned off). Keep the outdoor air intake closed and be sure the filter is clean. Filtered air typically has less smoke than the air outdoors. Running these appliances if they are not filtered can make indoor smoke worse.
- If you have any HEPA room air filtration units, use them.
- Avoid exercise or other strenuous activities in heavy smoke. If smoke is simply unpleasant or mildly irritating, changing the timing of a few activities may be all that is necessary.
- Avoid smoking and/or secondhand smoke, vacuuming, candles and other sources of additional air pollution.
- Commercially available dust masks may seem like a good idea, but they do virtually nothing to filter out the particles and gasses in smoke.
As temperatures cool in the evening, inversion conditions worsen and smoke in low lying areas may become thicker, especially if the outdoor air is still. It tends to be worst near dawn.
- Close bedroom windows at night.
- To prepare for nighttime smoke, consider airing out your home during the early or mid-afternoon when smoke tends to be more diluted. Use your best judgment. If smoke is thick during the day, follow the tips above.
- If symptoms persist or become more severe, please contact your primary health care provider.
Smoky conditions serve as a reminder to prepare individual plans to stay safe from wildfire and to prepare emergency kits in case of a wildfire emergency. For more information, visit:https://sjbpublichealth.org/southwest-colorado-wildfire-and-air-quality-resources/.