Protect Yourself and Your Family When Smoke is in the Air
We live in a region impacted by wildfire smoke which can quickly change air quality.
Where Do I Get Air Quality Information?
Ashland's air quality is measured downtown on the roof of Fire Station #1.
Check DEQ's Air Quality Index (AQI), then take appropriate measures described below in How Do I Protect Myself. Click on Ashland's dot to see the 1-hour and 24-hour AQI. The dot is tied to the 24-hour AQI. Use the 1-hour value and corresponding trend on the 1-hour graph to plan daily activities. Remember, conditions can change rapidly.
The EPA’s AirNow has current air quality along with maps showing regional wildfires.
The Oregon Smoke Blog has the local AQI and forecasts for communities issued by specialists assigned to major wildfires.
Who’s Most at Risk?
Children, older adults, pregnant or nursing mothers, and those with pre-existing respiratory ailments and other conditions are smoke sensitive groups and at greatest risk. Smoke sensitive groups should take additional preventative actions when smoke persists.
Children should take precautions and limit outdoor activities
Fine particles, but not hazardous gases, can be filtered with an N95 or N100 face mask. These masks can be found at your local pharmacy or hardware store. Ensure a tight fit and check how long your mask is effective. Bandanas and paper dust masks are ineffective and only trap large particles.
Follow the advice of your doctor or healthcare provider
Consider leaving the area if you are sensitive and smoke is an ongoing problem.
Call your healthcare provider for further advice if your symptoms worsen.
Smoke Exposure and Your Health
Smoke is a complex mixture of carbon dioxide, water vapor, carbon monoxide, particulate
matter, hydrocarbons and other organic chemicals, nitrogen oxides, and metals. This mixture can irritate and even injure the mouth, nose, throat, and lung tissue. Small particles pose the greatest problems, because they can get deep into your lungs, and even into your bloodstream.
Symptoms of smoke exposure usually include irritation of eyes, nose, and throat or breathing discomfort, even in otherwise healthy people. More severe symptoms may include chest tightness, wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing. Anyone experiencing symptoms should contact a healthcare provider for further advice or call 911 in an emergency.
Prolonged exposure to smoke can be harmful to people of all ages. Smoke can eventually damage your body's ability to remove large particles and excess phlegm from your lungs and airway. But, the healthy lung has a great ability to recover over time from smoke effects.
Prepare for Wildfire Season
Ashland residents live in a fire-prone environment and need to prepare for wildfire every year to protect our community and our health. If you have heart, vascular or lung disease, including asthma, talk with your healthcare provider before fire season to make plans. Discuss when to leave the area, how much medicine to have on hand, and your action plan if you know you may have issues. Have a several-day supply of nonperishable foods that do not require cooking. Cooking - especially frying and broiling - can add to indoor pollution levels.