Wildfire Season is approaching; Spokane-area agencies encourage residents to prepare now Smoke Ready Week: June 13-17
Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency: Lisa Woodard, PIO 509.477.4727, ext. 115, LWoodard@spokanecleanair.org
Spokane Regional Health District: Kelli Hawkins, Public Information Officer, 509.324.1539, email@example.com
SPOKANE, Wash – The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency and Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) are promoting June 13-17 as “Smoke Ready Week” to encourage residents to prepare now for wildfire smoke with information, tips and resources to do so.
Dr. Francisco Velázquez, SRHD Health Officer, said, “Exposure to wildfire smoke can affect your physical, mental and psychological health, so taking steps ahead of time to protect yourself and those you care about can provide peace of mind.”
“Our region has been hit hard with smoke from wildfires the last several years. By preparing ahead of time, people may be better equipped to reduce their exposure to smoke,” stated Scott Windsor, Executive Director of the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency.
Each day next week has a unique theme with related tips, which will be pushed out on agencies’ social media channels.
- Monday – What is in 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:|
|Coughing||Trouble breathing||Stinging eyes||Scratchy throat|
|Runny nose||Irritated sinuses||Wheezing||Chest pain|
|Headaches||Asthma attack||Tiredness||Fast heartbeat|
As transmission of COVID-19 continues in our community, it’s important to be aware many of the symptoms are similar. Symptoms that are unique to COVID-19 include:
- Increase in severity of cough
- New loss of taste or smell
- Nausea or vomiting
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, even those that seem minor, you should test for COVID-19. Free at-home tests can be ordered by visiting the testing section at covid.srhd.org.
- Tuesday – Who is at greater 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 woman, and adults 65 and over. People in these high-risk groups need to follow their health care team’s instructions for taking medicines and follow their respiratory management plan. If symptoms worsen, they need to call their health care provider.
- Wednesday – How to find current air quality information. Knowing where and how to access current air quality is important. During wildfire season, air quality can change hour to hour. There are several ways to get the air quality data, including online, phone apps, and text and email alerts. Visit SpokaneCleanAir.org/current-air-quality or AirNow.gov. For statewide air quality and wildfire updates Washington State Smoke Blog: https://wasmoke.blogspot.com/
- 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, switch from “fresh air intake” to “recirculate” and the same is true for your vehicle’s air conditioner.
- Friday – More ways to protect yourself from smoke. Create a cleaner-air room in your home using a portable HEPA room air. Expect prices to start around $200. 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 will cost around $50. One-minute video on building your own.