As the air quality in our area is affected by smoke from wildfires, it's important to take some precautions to protect your health.
Air Quality Resources
Wildfire smoke contains many air pollutants, including particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and ozone that are known to cause health issues. Particulate matter can trigger respiratory problems and asthma. Those most at risk include young children, older adults, pregnant women, people who work outside, people with chronic respiratory and heart conditions, and people experiencing homelessness.
Smoke can irritate the eyes and airways, causing cough, a dry scratchy throat, runny nose, trouble breathing, and irritated sinuses. Try to stay hydrated by drinking water during heavy smoke events. Particulates in wildfire smoke carry health risks.
Residents should monitor children and check in on others who may be more susceptible to the health impacts of wildfire smoke. Seek immediate medical care if someone is experiencing chest pain, chest tightness, or shortness of breath.
Smoke Inhalation During Wildfires Reduction Tips
Stay inside with the doors and windows closed to reduce exposure to smoky air. Using air conditioners that re-circulate indoor air may be helpful in reducing smoke from entering the home, as most central air conditioners are designed by default to re-circulate indoor air.
During a wildfire smoke event, replace your HVAC air filter with a high-efficiency filter that can capture fine particles - ask an air conditioning professional what type of filter is best for your system.
If being at home is not an option, go to an indoor facility, like a shopping mall or library.
Avoid Indoor Activities that Increase Air Pollution
- Do not burn candles
- Do not run the vacuum cleaner
- Do not smoke tobacco products, including e-cigarettes
- Do not burn a fire in your fireplace or wood stove
- Do not operate gas or charcoal-burning devices
Reduce Outdoor Activity
- Reduce outdoor physical activity
- Re-schedule outdoor activities and events
- Avoid mowing your lawn and using leaf blowers
Monitor wildfire activity in your area and be prepared to evacuate if advised. Make sure that all prescribed medications are filled, and this includes if you have prescribed inhalers.
N95 Respiratory Masks
People who must be outdoors for long periods, in areas with heavy smoke, or where ash is disturbed, may want to wear an N95 respirator mask. N95 masks require a perfect seal to be effective. If the mask is not fitted correctly, it will provide little if any protection.
N95 respirator masks are not intended for children.
Wearing a mask may cause breathing difficulties and can be dangerous for individuals with lung and heart conditions. If you have a chronic health condition, consult your healthcare provider before wearing an N95 mask.
Activity Recommendations for Butte County Schools
The Activity Recommendations for Butte County Schools Guidelines (PDF) are intended to assist Butte County school districts in making decisions when air quality is poor. School closure and event cancellation is ultimately a school district-by-school district decision based on local conditions. The impact of smoke depends on the sensitivity of the person and the length of exposure, as outlined in the Air Quality Activity Recommendations chart. Children with respiratory or heart conditions are vulnerable to poor air quality and may require extra precautions. School districts should advise parents to consult with their family healthcare provider.