Friday, August 7, 2015

Protect Your Lungs, Humboldt

Posted By on Fri, Aug 7, 2015 at 5:01 PM

click to enlarge Dottie Simmons of Simmons Natural Bodycare wears a specialty protective mask to garden at her home in Dinsmore. - DOTTIE SIMMONS
  • Dottie Simmons
  • Dottie Simmons of Simmons Natural Bodycare wears a specialty protective mask to garden at her home in Dinsmore.

Even those of us far away from the fireline have been impacted by the smoke and haze hovering over much of Humboldt County. If you washed layers of ash off of your car last week, consider what that stuff will do to the inside of your lungs! 

The North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District has notified us of hazardous conditions in Hayfork, Trinity Pines, Mad River, Ruth, Dinsmore and the Hyampom area, but residents across the region should take caution about being outdoors in areas with poor air quality. According to its press release, an incoming low pressure system may disperse the smoke in coming days, but could also increase fire activity.

From the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District: 

Wildfire Smoke Public Service Announcement

Areas of smoke, haze, and degraded air quality are being experienced throughout Humboldt, Del Norte, and Trinity Counties due to numerous wildfires. It is anticipated that some smoke from fires in Oregon will head
southward and add to the smoke from local fires.

Weather forecasts show low pressure system moving through the region Friday, which will bring continued offshore flow. The low pressure will improve smoke dispersion but result in an increase in fire activity and smoke.

Expect increased smoke levels and similar conditions to Thursday. Smoke will likely settle in nearby canyons, valleys, and basins causing poor air quality. Air quality monitors in the Eureka area continue to show good to
moderate air quality.

Recent information regarding the fires of interest:

Fork Complex – Trinity County. Size is 11,461 acres & 7% contained.
Mad River Complex – (Humboldt/Trinity County). Size 15,760 acres & 10%
Humboldt Complex – (Humboldt County). 3,702 acres & 30% contained.
River Complex – (Trinity County). Size 10,912 acres & 1% contained.
Fire Information –
Gasquet Complex – (Del Norte County). Size 1000 acres & 2% contained.
South Complex – Hyampom (Trinity County). 12,156 acres & 0% contained.

Health Information for Smoke Impacts

Concentrations of smoke may vary depending upon location, weather, and distance from the fire. Smoke from wildfires and structure fires contain harmful chemicals that can affect your health. Smoke can cause eye and throat irritation, coughing, and difficulty breathing. People who are at greatest risk of experiencing symptoms due to smoke include: those with respiratory disease (such as asthma), those with heart disease, young children, and older

These sensitive populations should stay indoors and avoid prolonged activity. All others should limit prolonged or heavy activity and time spent outdoors. Even healthy adults can be affected by smoke. Seek medical help if you have symptoms that worsen or become severe.

If you can see, taste, or feel smoke, contact your local health department and/or primary healthcare provider. This is especially important if you have health concerns, are elderly, are pregnant, or have a child in your care.

Follow these general precautions to protect your health during a smoke event:

 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).

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About The Author

Linda Stansberry

Linda Stansberry

Linda Stansberry was a staff writer of the North Coast Journal from 2015 to 2018. She is a frequent contributor the the Journal and our other publications.

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