Protect yourself from wildfire smoke

Submitted by San Juan County

With a change in the weather pattern, smoke from nearby wildfires is now settling over Western Washington. Air quality could be unhealthy at times over the next several days.

Take precautions to protect yourself and family members if smoke reaches unhealthy levels. You can monitor air quality in our area using the Washington Smoke Information interactive map. We do not have any air monitoring stations in our county, however, we recommend that you use Bellingham, Anacortes and Victoria as indicators of conditions here.

Use the Air Quality Advisory for Smoke and Other Fine Particle Air Pollution chart to determine which precautions to take depending on the air pollution category.

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 lung diseases such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including bronchitis and emphysema.
  • People with respiratory infections, such as cold or flu
  • People with existing heart or circulatory problems, such as congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, and angina.
  • People with a prior history of heart attack or stroke.
  • Infants and children because their lungs and airways are still developing.
  • Older adults over age 65, who may have unrecognized heart or lung disease.
  • Stay indoors and keep doors and windows closed when unhealthy levels of smoke are present. When outdoors, limit or avoid strenuous activity.

For more information on health effects from smoke, visit Washington State Department of Health and additional information on air quality visit the Northwest Clean Air Agency.