Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Gets in Your Eyes, Lungs

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 9:17 PM

click to enlarge Near Somes Bar. - PHOTO BY KEN MALCOMSON
  • Photo by Ken Malcomson
  • Near Somes Bar.
Every summer it’s the same, it seems: The woods burn, and the smoke settles in heavily over our inland communities. This season, so far, it’s the Happy Camp and July forest fire complexes, and the Oregon fire in Weaverville, clogging skies and lungs — and the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District has been issuing regular updates on the smoke hazards.

Today’s warning from the air quality folks says there continue to be smoke impacts in and around Orleans, Hoopa, Willow Creek and Weaverville.

“For today and Thursday the forecast high pressure system cause, daytime stagnation, increasing smoke impacts in communities throughout the region,” says the district in a news release. “There will also be strong nighttime drainage inversions in areas near the fires. Periods of smoke levels may reach levels unhealthy for sensitive individuals in the afternoon and evening … . Nighttime conditions will again allow smoke to settle into valley locations through the early morning.”

This warning is especially important to those sensitive to smoke, with health issues – like asthma and heart disease – or who are very young or old, or pregnant. Those folks should stay indoors, or get out of the smoky region altogether if they can.

“All others should limit prolonged or heavy activity and time spent outdoors,” says the district. “Even healthy adults can be affected by smoke. Seek medical help if you have symptoms that worsen or become severe.

Specific precautions from the district:

Minimize or stop outdoor activities, especially exercise.

Stay indoors with windows and doors closed as much as possible.

Do not run fans that bring smoky outdoor air inside – examples include swamp coolers, whole-house fans, and fresh air ventilation systems.

Run your air-conditioner only if it does not bring smoke in from the outdoors. Change the standard air conditioner filter to a medium or high efficiency filter. If available, use the “re-circulate” or “recycle” setting on the unit.

Do not smoke, fry food, or do other things that will create indoor air pollution.

If you have lung disease (including asthma) or heart disease, closely monitor your health and contact your doctor if you have symptoms that worsen.

Consider leaving the area until smoke conditions improve if you have repeated coughing, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, nausea, unusual fatigue, lightheadedness.

For 24-hour Air Quality Advisory Information, call toll-free at 1-866-BURN-DAY (1-866-287-6329). More info:
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Heidi Walters

Heidi Walters worked as a staff writer at the North Coast Journal from 2005 to 2015.

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