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Posted on: September 11, 2020

Health Care Provider Alert: Wildfire Smoke & Unhealthy Air Quality

Ongoing wildfires in the Pacific Northwest region have caused a substantial decline in air quality that is expected to last through the coming weekend, with a forecast for improvement by the beginning of next week.  As you are aware, this may lead to a surge in presentations for smoke-related upper respiratory and cardiopulmonary complaints.

Actions Requested

  • Be prepared for a possible surge in health care seeking related to this event.
  • Monitor air quality conditions and forecasts.
  • Encourage your patient populations, particularly those vulnerable to such conditions, to stay home and follow standard guidance for mitigating air quality within the home.

Recommendations to Community Members for Mitigating Smoke Exposure

Stay indoors, with just household members. Remember, it is much easier to spread COVID-19 indoors than it is outdoors. Smoke can also make people more susceptible to respiratory infections like COVID-19. Protect family members from the smoke by staying inside and from COVID-19 by delaying small get-togethers until the air quality improves enough for everyone to be comfortably outside.

Reduce outdoor physical activity. Save walks, jogs, and yard work for a day when the air quality is better.

Keep indoor air clean.

Close windows and doors to reduce intake of smoke. Open them back up again when the air quality is good to refresh the air.

Improve filtration of indoor air in the home and create a clean air room where you spend most of your time. A DIY box fan filter can improve indoor air quality in a single room. Filtering indoor air is an effective way to reduce fine particles from wildfire smoke.

Avoid doing anything that may contribute to smoke or dust in the air, like burning candles or incense, smoking inside, frying or broiling, or vacuuming.

Keep wearing cloth face covering to protect yourself and others from COVID-19; unfortunately, they don’t help that much with smoke.

Smoke & Wildfire Status

Puget Sound Clean Air Agency 

Washington State Department of Health

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