Jackson Baures, Public Health Division Manager, 541-774-8039
Meghan Fagundes, Oregon DEQ Air Quality Natural Resource Specialist, 541-776-6089
Date of release: July 31, 2015 / 3:00 pm
Watch for Unhealthy Smoke Levels
Jackson County health officials and DEQ urge people to watch for unhealthy smoke levels. It is important for people to be observant of the air quality during the wildfire season, smoke levels can rise and fall depending on weather factors including wind direction.
During a wildfire smoke event, Jackson County health officials and DEQ advise residents to take the following precautions:
Be aware of smoke concentrations in your area and avoid the places with highest concentrations.
Avoid smoke either by leaving the area or protecting yourself by staying indoors, and by closing windows and doors
Avoid strenuous outdoor activity in smoky conditions.
People exposed to smoky conditions and who suffer from asthma or other respiratory problems should follow their breathing management plans or contact their healthcare providers.
Check DEQ's Air Quality Index to see real-time air monitoring data from monitors placed around Oregon: http://www.deq.state.or.us/aqi/index.aspx
Keep in mind that monitoring locations are limited and pollution levels may be higher in some areas, especially those closer to a wildfire.
Conduct a visual assessment: People can conduct a visual assessment of nearby smoke to quickly get a sense of air quality levels. Generally, if you can see up to 15 miles, the air quality is probably good. If you can see less than one mile, the air quality is very unhealthy and everyone should avoid outdoor activities. Refer to the descriptions below for more information based on how far you can see in various conditions:
Between 5-15 miles: Air quality is moderate and beginning to deteriorate, and is generally healthy, except possibly for smoke sensitive persons. The general public should avoid prolonged exposure if conditions are smoky to the point where visibility is closer to the 5 mile range.
If under 5 miles: The air quality is unhealthy for young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness. These people should minimize outdoor activity.
If under 3 miles: The air quality is unhealthy for everyone. Young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness should avoid all outdoor activities.
If under 1 mile: The air quality is very unhealthy, and in some cases may be hazardous. Everyone should avoid all outdoor activities.
For more information on using the visibility index during wildfires, visit www.deq.state.or.us/aq/burning/wildfires/visibility.htm
For information on smoke and wildfires in Oregon, visit http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/
For information on smoke and wildfires in California, visit http://californiasmokeinfo.blogspot.com/
For more information about wildfires and health threats from wildfire smoke, go to http://public.health.oregon.gov/Preparedness/Prepare/Pages/PrepareForWildfire.aspx