With numerous fires continuing to burn in and around the county, Siskiyou County Health Officer Dr. Stephen Kolpacoff and Siskiyou County Air Quality officials put out a notification Tuesday advising residents to take precautions and avoid voluntary outdoor activities when the smoke level is unhealthy, above 150 AQI.
Schools, recreation districts and other organizations that operate outdoor sports programs are being advised to voluntarily cancel or postpone outdoor activities when air quality is unhealthy.
“Smoky conditions can quickly change throughout the day,” according to the release. “It’s very important for isolated residents to have neighbors or family check on them to make sure they are protecting themselves from increased smoke exposure.”
Along with fires burning in southern Oregon, continuing fires in Siskiyou County as of Aug. 23, 2017 updates posted at inciweb.nwcg.gov include: The Eclipse Complex west of Happy Camp on the Klamath National Forest (37,445 acres burned, 19 percent contained, 1,130 total personnel); the Salmon-August Complex in the Marble Mountain Wilderness and Klamath National Forest side of the Trinity Alps Wilderness (9,578 acres burned, 16 percent contained, 590 total personnel); and the Orleans Complex about 20 miles north of Orleans in Siskiyou County (8,621 acres burned, 51 percent contained, 817 total personnel).
The following recommendations were offered as a way of protecting residents during smoke exposure. If you are in an area with heavy, visible smoke, Public Health advises the following recommendations:
• Stay informed by checking the Air Quality Index linked to www.co.siskiyou.ca.us or stay tuned to the radio. If you have questions, call the Nurse of the Day at 841-2134.
• Stay indoors as much as possible. Keep windows and doors closed. Run air conditioner if you have one, with fresh-air intake closed. If your air conditioner unit can accommodate a High Efficiency Particulate Air filter it will reduce particulates. Changing your air conditioner filter and using a room air cleaner which utilizes a HEPA filter can help reduce fine particles in indoor air.
• No strenuous physical activities outdoors. It is recommended that active children play indoors.
• Avoid using swamp coolers or whole house fans in smoky conditions. Seek relocation site if you do not have air conditioning.
• Do not add to indoor pollution. Do not use anything that burns such as candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves. Do not fry foods. Do not vacuum because it stirs up particles already inside your home. Do not smoke as it also adds pollution into the air.
Smoke Respite Centers established in county
Due to the poor air quality throughout the county, Smoke Respite Centers have been established for all community residents who need to leave their homes during the day due to unhealthy levels of smoke. Centers have been opened at the following locations:
• Weed – Family and Community Resource Center of Weed, 260 Main Street. Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Yreka – Yreka Community Resource Center, 201 S. Broadway Street. Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon; and 1 to 5 p.m.
• Fort Jones – Scott Valley Family Resource Center, 11920 Main Street. Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Happy Camp – Karuk Senior Nutrition Program Building, 64101 Second Street. Hours: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
If you do not have air conditioning, it's suggested you take these additional steps to protect yourself and your family from heat exhaustion, which can be especially dangerous for infants, children, the elderly and people with chronic disease:
• Lower body temperature by using cold compresses, misting, and taking cool showers, baths or sponge baths. Wear light weight and light colored clothing.
• Drink plenty of fluids. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. However, if your doctor has told you to limit the amount you drink or you are taking water pills, ask your doctor how much you should drink during the heat.
• Avoid drinks with alcohol or large amounts of sugar, as these can promote dehydration.
• A mask is not recommended in moderate smoke. It can make the lungs work harder to breathe and does not protect against irritating gases in the smoke.
• Disposable Particulate Respirators (N-95 masks, NIOSH approved) can be of some benefit at reducing exposure to smoke if they are properly fitted and sealed closely to the wearer’s face.
For questions call Public Health at 841-2134.