Wildfire season means it’s time to pay attention to air quality.

Air quality can be a big deal this time of year, and it changes depending on where the wildfires are and which way the wind is blowing. Wildfire smoke can cause irritating symptoms for healthy people and more serious health issues for people with heart and lung disease. It’s important to know how to protect yourself and your family from smoky air whenever possible.

Let’s start with precautions: How can we limit our exposure to smoke?

Mostly, you should reduce your time and activities outside as much as possible. Stay indoors in air-conditioning, if you can. If you don’t have air conditioning, go someplace that does, like the mall or library. Otherwise, there are several things you can do to limit the smoky air you breathe:

  • Keep your windows and doors closed.
  • If you have central air conditioning, use an air filter rated MERV 8 or higher and turn your system fan setting to on.
  • If you have to drive in smoky areas, turn the vehicle air flow to recirculate to reduce the amount of smoke in the vehicle.

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The health threat of Idaho wildfire smoke: Tips to protect you and your family

SmokeBoise1Wildfire season has arrived, and with it, the smoky air that can make it difficult to breathe is already occurring in some parts of Idaho. Air quality is a big deal this time of year, and it changes depending on where the wildfires are and which way the wind is blowing. It often feels like there’s no escape from the smoke, which can cause irritating symptoms for healthy people and more serious health issues for people with heart and lung disease. So, it’s important to protect yourself and your family from smoky air whenever possible. Continue reading

Public health officials advise Idahoans to limit time outside as air quality worsens

SmokeBoise1BOISE  — Smoke from several wildfires in Idaho and surrounding states is affecting the air quality for residents in nearly every Idaho community and is expected to continue to do so for the next several days. Public health officials are advising people in the affected areas to limit their time outside as much as possible to reduce their exposure to smoke. Continue reading

Limiting your exposure to smoky air is the healthy thing to do

PowerlineFirePocatello

Wildfire season has arrived, and with it, the smoky air that can make it difficult to breathe. Air quality is a big deal this time of year, and it changes depending on where the wildfires are and which way the wind is blowing. It often feels like there’s no escape from the smoke, which can cause irritating symptoms for healthy people and more serious health issues for people with heart and lung disease. So, it’s important to protect yourself and your family from smoky air whenever possible. Continue reading

Shining a light on safety before, during & after the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse

idUnless you’ve been living on the dark side of the moon, you’ve probably heard about the total solar eclipse occurring the morning of Aug. 21 in Idaho. So, it’s a good time to talk about preparation and safety before, during, and after this historic event that’s expected to draw up to hundreds of thousands of viewers to the state. Continue reading

Wildfire Smoke Begins Impacting Air Quality

Smoke from several Idaho wildfires is impacting air quality for residents of southern and central Idaho.

Smoke from the 10,000 acre Pioneer Fire north of Idaho City, is causing intermittent levels of “Unhealthy” to “Very Unhealthy” air for Idaho City and nearby communities, with smoke drifting down into the Treasure and Magic Valleys causing air quality in the “Moderate” category. The Comet Fire north of Salmon also is producing air quality in the “Moderate” category for Salmon area residents.

Older adults, infants, children and people with medical conditions such as asthma, lung disease, and heart disease are more sensitive to poor air quality and may want to take precautions when air quality is moderate or worse. People who use inhalers for asthma or other conditions should keep them close at hand. Continue reading

Charts for children and adults help determine activity when air is smoky

AirQualityActivityGuide

Wildfire smoke and poor air quality are going to be with us for a while. The people who are most affected by poor air quality are also the most vulnerable: Children, the elderly, the disabled, and people with respiratory and heart conditions.

Air quality can fluctuate daily around the state, but it  is not expected to significantly improve anytime soon. Please be aware of current conditions and keep children inside when the air quality is unhealthy. Also, check on your elderly and vulnerable neighbors to be sure the air quality is not causing them undue distress.

If you coach children or run a daycare or a school, it’s especially important to be aware of outside air conditions. Sending a child with asthma out to play when air quality is listed as orange (unhealthy for sensitive populations) or red (unhealthy for everyone) could lead to serious health effects for that child. You can check real-time air quality in many Idaho communities through the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality’s air monitors here.

If you’re not sure, the smoke activity guidelines above and below can help:  Continue reading