Protect yourself from wildfire smoke

Submitted by San Juan County.

Smoke from nearby wildfires is predicted to make its way to San Juan County (SJC) this weekend, Sept 9 through 11. Take precautions to protect yourself and family members if smoke reaches unhealthy levels.

“We have three air quality monitors one on each of the three largest islands (Orcas, San Juan, and Lopez),” said SJC Health Officer Dr. Frank James. “The Purple Air system collects individual monitoring data and can be very useful to see what air quality is like in real time locally.” You can also monitor air quality in our area using Washington Smoke Information Blog or Washington’s Air Monitoring Network map.

Smoke contains very small particles and gases. These particles can get into your eyes and lungs where they can cause health problems. Inhaling smoke is not good for anyone, however, people most likely to have health problems from breathing smoke include people with heart and lung diseases, people with respiratory infections, people with diabetes, stroke survivors, infants, children, pregnant people, and people over 65 years of age.

Here are steps to reduce smoke exposure:

• Limit time outside and avoid strenuous outdoor activity;

• Close windows and doors unless it is too hot to maintain safe temperatures indoors;

• Don’t add to indoor air pollution (e.g., cigarette smoking, burning candles);

• Filter indoor air (HVAC system, HEPA portable air cleaner, DIY box fan filter);

• Set air conditioner to circulate;

• Seek cleaner air elsewhere if needed and possible;

• If you must go outside, wear a properly fitted particle respirator, like a N95 mask.

It is important to monitor symptoms of smoke exposure. Symptoms include burning eyes, coughing, throat and nose irritation, headaches, fatigue, wheezing and shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, and chest pain. If your symptoms become serious seek medical attention immediately.

Relevant URLs:

Washington Air Quality Guide for Particle Pollution

Media Contact: Kyra Jahanfar, Program Coordinator – Emergency Preparedness & Communications, 360-370-7502

About San Juan County’s Department of Health and Community Services

San Juan County’s Department of Health and Community Services is responsible for community and environmental health, mental health and substance abuse programs, senior services, affordable housing projects, and more. The department has staff and offices on Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan Islands. For more information about San Juan County’s Department of Health and Community Services, visit