Monday, September 4, 2017

The Smoke is No Joke

Posted By on Mon, Sep 4, 2017 at 3:27 PM

click to enlarge The red, smoke-filtered sun over the Arcata Bottoms. - THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson
  • The red, smoke-filtered sun over the Arcata Bottoms.

If you've been (or even looked) outside this weekend, you've noticed the air has been thick with visible fog-like smoke. And chances are, depending on your location, you're feeling the effects in some measure.

In a press release, the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District warned of hazardous conditions in Orleans, Weitchpec and Hoopa due to wildfires. Clean air shelters for our county are located at the Weitchpec Tribal Office and the Hoopa Neighborhood Facility. NCUAQMD advised residents to contact their health providers if they notice signs of excess smoke exposure, among them coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain and nausea.

An earlier release today designated areas from Trinidad, McKinleyville, Arcata, Blue Lake, Eureka, Fortuna, Ferndale and Rio Dell to Scotia as "'Unhealthy' with periods of 'Very Unhealthy' conditions with possible improvement toward the afternoon/evening." Meanwhile,  Garberville and Southern Humboldt communities are categorized as "overall 'Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups' to 'Unhealthy,'" and Willow Creek and Salyer are labeled "Very Unhealthy."

Those who are most vulnerable to the effects of smoke exposure — including the young, elderly, pregnant women and those with respiratory or heart disease — are advised to keep indoors and "avoid prolonged activity," though everyone should avoid long, strenuous outdoor activity and pay attention to potential symptoms.

See the full press release copied below for details and a full list of symptoms to look out for.

Updated, September 4, 2017 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For the following areas:
Air Quality Alert
Hazardous Conditions
In Humboldt County:
Orleans, Weitchpec, and Hoopa are forecast “Hazardous” conditions for these
communities in the Klamath River drainage.
In Trinity County:
 Weaverville and possible adjacent areas (Big Bar, Del Loma, Lewiston, Junction City,
and Hayfork) are forecast “Hazardous” conditions with periods of “Very Unhealthy”.
Clean Air Shelters in Humboldt County:
- Weitchpec Tribal Office, Highway 96, Weitchpec. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Hoopa Neighborhood Facility, Hoopa Tribal Office, Highway 96, Hoopa, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.,
M-F and this Holiday Weekend.
Clean Air Shelters in Trinity County:
- Veterans Memorial Hall, 101 Memorial Dr, Weaverville. Hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- American Red Cross Evacuation Shelter, First Baptist Church, 1261 Main St., Weaverville. - Hayfork Community Center, 154 Tule Creek Road, Hayfork. Hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Clean Air Shelters in Del Norte County (see also
- Family Resource Center, 494 Pacific Ave, Crescent City (closed 8 p.m. to 10 a.m.)
- Tsunami Lanes Bowling Alley, 760 L Street, Crescent City (open during regular
bowling alley hours posted at location)
- Xaa-wan'-k'wvt Village and Resort (formerly Ship Ashore), 12370 Hwy 101 N.,
Smith River (closed 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.)
Updates will be provided as conditions change, and people are recommended to restrict outdoor activities when possible. People are recommended to restrict outdoor activity.

Symptoms that may be related to excess smoke exposure include:
• Repeated coughing
• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
• Wheezing
• Chest tightness or pain
• Palpitations
• Nausea or unusual fatigue
• Lightheadedness
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, contact your health care provider. Please see the NCUAQMD’s website at for additional recommendations on limiting smoke exposure.
For 24-hour Air Quality Advisory Information, call the NCUAQMD’s hotline toll-free at 1-866-BURN-DAY (1-866-287-6329), or visit the website at
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 adults.
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).
For further information, visit the District’s website at
AIR QUALITY MANAGEMENT DISTRICT 707 L Street, Eureka, CA 95501 Telephone (707) 443-3093 Fax (707) 443-3099

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About The Author

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill is the arts and features editor of the North Coast Journal. She won the Association of Alternative Newsmedia’s 2020 Best Food Writing Award and the 2019 California News Publisher's Association award for Best Writing.

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