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WILDFIRE SMOKE IS IN THE AIR
The Spokane area is being blanketed by smoke from surrounding wildfires. As the wind directions change, so too, does the smoke. Smoke from wildfires expose our lungs and bodies to potentially harmful pollutants as well as it makes it more difficult to fight off infections. The smoke may make it difficult to breathe, especially for people with existing health conditions, such as asthma, COPD, COVID-19, and heart disease. Children and older adults are also more susceptible to these smoky conditions.
The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency monitors the air quality in our region with several monitoring stations. To see what the current air quality index (AQI) is and to see a forecast for the area, you can visit their website. The AQI lets you know how polluted the air is so that you can take steps to better prepare for and manage your health. The index is divided into six categories ranging from “Good” through “Hazardous”.
According to several public health agencies, including the Spokane Regional Health District and the WA Department of Health, there are several things you can do to be prepared to better handle the smoke:
- Limit your time outdoors.
- Keep windows and doors closed. Consider opening the windows when the air quality improves. However, without an air conditioning, be watchful of heat-related illnesses during hot days.
- Avoid creating any indoor smoke. This includes the use of candles, sprays, cigarettes, and broiling/frying food.
- Create a “cleaner-air room” in your home. Use HEPA filters. Clean and change the filters according to the manufacturer. View the WA Department of Ecology’s video on how to make your own clean air fan.
- Use the recirculation feature on air conditioners in your home and auto.
- Consider leaving the area if the air quality is poor and it’s not possible to keep the indoor air clean.
- Remember that your pets can also be affected by the smoke.
- Julie Happy