Public Health officials urge Klamath County residents to take precautions as local air quality (AQ) reaches unhealthy levels. The AQ index at 7:00am today was 154; meaning unhealthy air conditions for all groups (see U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s scale for rating air quality below).
The High Cascades Complex fire and the Pelican Butte fire appears to be sending smoke into Klamath Falls, Rocky Point, Fort Klamath and Chiloquin areas. Hourly smoke concentrations will remain unhealthy for all groups today. With the arrival of winds from the north west later this evening, we believe the smoke levels will rise to very unhealthy levels today and well into Monday.
Klamath County Public Health is advising residents in Fort Klamath, Rocky Point, Chiloquin, and Klamath Falls to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations and urge local residents to take the following precautions to avoid breathing problems and/or other symptoms caused by smoke inhalation:
- Check local Air Quality Index (AQI) for information about conditions.
- Reduce the amount of time spent outdoors. This can usually provide some protection, especially in a tightly closed, air-conditioned house in which the air conditioner can be set to re-circulate air instead of bringing in outdoor air. Staying inside with the doors and windows closed will reduce exposure.
- Avoid strenuous outdoor activity.
- Reduce other sources of indoor air pollution. Some indoor sources of air pollution can emit large amounts of the same pollutants present in wildfire smoke. Indoor sources such as burning cigarettes, gas, propane and wood burning stoves and furnaces, and activities such as cooking, burning candles, and vacuuming can greatly increase the particle levels in a home. These sources of indoor air pollution should be avoided when wildfire smoke is present.
- Do not rely on dust masks for protection. Paper “comfort” or “dust” masks commonly found at hardware stores are designed to trap large particles, but will not offer protection from smoke. An “N95” mask will offer some protection.
Individuals with lung diseases such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease should follow their health care provider’s advice about prevention and treatment of symptoms. When smoke levels are high enough, even healthy people may experience symptoms. Remember, local smoke levels can rise and fall rapidly, depending on weather factors including wind direction. People can conduct a visual assessment of smoke levels to quickly get a sense of AQ levels and take precautions. If people have additional questions or concerns, they should contact their local public health agency for the latest in threats to health conditions from smoke.
To check current air quality conditions: http://www.deq.state.or.us/aqi/index.aspx