Submitted by City of Lakewood
It’s wildfire season and as we’ve seen the last couple of days, there is heavy smoke lingering in the air. What does that mean for people who want to get outside and enjoy the warm weather?
According to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency sensitive groups — children, pregnant women, people with breathing or heart issues — should avoid activity outside today and instead stay indoors. It’s also recommended that healthy adults take it easy today and limit outdoor activity.
This blog includes a map of air quality readings across the state compiled by state and local jurisdictions. You can also visit the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency website for more information and the state Department of Ecology site to view an interactive air pollution monitor map.
From the clean air agency’s website: Wildfire smoke carries the same health risks as wood smoke, except there’s much more of it. Smoke is full of small particles, which can be especially dangerous for sensitive groups — children and older adults and people that are pregnant, have heart or lung issues (such as asthma and COPD), or that have had a stroke.
Wildfires usually occur during the warmer, drier summer months. As climate change worsens, we expect more wildfires in the Pacific Northwest and potentially more wildfire smoke making its way to the Puget Sound region.
Although it’s hard to predict what will happen this year, there are some great ways to be ready if wildfire smoke fills our air.
Be Prepared for Wildfire Smoke:
- Check with your doctor or medical professional to create a plan for your family before wildfire smoke impacts our air quality.
- If the air looks and smells smoky, it may not be the best time for activities outdoors. Use your best judgment.
- Check the air quality forecast regularly by using either the activity tracker on our home page or by checking the air pollution monitor closest to you.
- Stock up on supplies (food, water, etc.), medications, and other items you may need for your family and pets so you can avoid going outside.
- If you are able, purchase an indoor high-efficiency HEPA filter fan/purifier that is suitable for your home.
- Unable to buy an indoor air filter? You can make one! All you need is a box fan, furnace filter (MERV-13 or better), and a bungee cord or tape. More information here.
- Designate a room in your home to be a “clean room.” Ideally, this room should have as few windows or doors as possible to let smoke in. Use an indoor air filter to make the room even cleaner.
- If you have an air conditioner, close the AC’s fresh air intake so you can keep smoky air out of your home.
In the Community:
- Know where the nearest “cooling center” is located. Cooling centers, like libraries or community centers, could be the best place for you to avoid smoky air.
- N95 or N100 rated masks can help protect you from air pollution. These masks are usually available at hardware and home repair stores. Please check with your doctor to see if this appropriate for you. More information here.