SPOKANE, Wash – Now is the time to prepare for wildfire smoke and “Smoke Ready Week,” June 14-18, encourages residents to do just that. The week features information, tips and resources to help begin to prepare for wildfire smoke and protect your health.
Smoke Ready Week is a collaborative effort among several local agencies, including Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency, Spokane Regional Health District, and Spokane County Emergency Management.
“Our region has been hit hard with smoke from wildfires. By preparing ahead of time, you will be more equipped to reduce your exposure to smoke,” stated Scott K. Windsor, Executive Director at Spokane Clean Air.
Each day, from June 14-18, information and resources on preparing for wildfire smoke will be posted and shared on social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. A unique theme with related tips is provided each day.
Monday – How to find current air quality information.
Knowing where and how to access current air quality information is important. During wildfire season, air quality can change hour to hour. There are several ways to get air quality data, including online, phone apps, and text and email alerts. Visit SpokaneCleanAir.org or AirNow.gov for current air quality. For statewide air quality and wildfire updates Washington State Smoke Blog: https://wasmoke.blogspot.com/
Tuesday – Wildfire smoke and how it harms health.
Smoke is made up of gasses and microscopic particles. When inhaled, these particles bypass our bodies’ normal defenses, traveling deep into the lungs and even entering the bloodstream. Breathing in smoke can have immediate health effects, including the following:
Coughing Trouble breathing Stinging eyes Scratchy throat
Runny nose Irritated sinuses Wheezing Chest pain
Headaches Asthma attack Tiredness Fast heartbeat
Wednesday – Who is at most risk from wildfire smoke?
Inhaling wildfire smoke can be harmful to anyone, but it is especially harmful to these vulnerable groups: people with heart and lung disease, people with chronic respiratory conditions, infants and children, pregnant women and adults 65 and over. People in these high-risk groups need to follow their health care team’s instructions for taking medications and follow their respiratory management plan. If symptoms worsen, they need to call their health care provider.
Thursday – Minimize smoke exposure at home.
Learn about your home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. Ensure the best filters for the system are used and change filters more often when it’s smoky. If you have an air conditioning system in your home or vehicle, switch from “fresh air intake” to “recirculate.”.
Friday – More ways to protect yourself from smoke.
Create a cleaner-air room in your home using a portable HEPA room air cleaner. Expect prices to start around $300. If purchasing a portable room air cleaner isn’t in your current budget, there are do-it-yourself instructions for building a “box fan filter.” These are fairly simple to assemble and cost around $50. View a tutorial to create a box fan filter.