Ramshaw’s Ace Hardware in Mount Shasta also has N95 masks available, as well as N100s, which are not quite as effective in filtering out microscopic particles, but are still helpful, according to the California Department of Public Health.

BN95 masks meant to protect lungs from the heavy wildfire smoke blanketing Siskiyou County are hot sellers at local hardware stores.

“We used to sell them very seldomly, maybe a couple a month,” said Ron McCloud, owner of Dunsmuir Hardware. “Now, we’re having a hard time keeping them in stock.”

At Solano’s Do It Best in Mount Shasta, N95 masks have been “selling like crazy,” said employee Pam Bresseur. They disappear off the shelves each day.

Ramshaw’s Ace Hardware in Mount Shasta also has N95 masks available, as well as N100s, which are not quite as effective in filtering out microscopic particles, but are still helpful, according to the California Department of Public Health.

The CDPH suggests selecting a “particulate respirator” which has the word “NIOSH” and either “N95” or “N100” printed on it.

“Respirator masks labeled N95 or N100 provide some protection – they filter out fine particles but not hazardous gases such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and acrolein,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

All of the local vendors sell the basic N95 masks for less than $10. Larger, more heavy duty masks are available for approximately $45, but the cheaper version is just as effective.

Masks should have two straps that go around the head to be effective, the CDPH states. Those with only one strap or those that hook around the ears will not protect your lungs, according to the CDPH.

People should choose a size that will fit over their nose and under the chin, and the mask “should seal tightly to your face.” Unfortunately, the CDPH said these masks do not come in sizes for young children.

The most effective way to protect yourself from wildfire smoke, however, is to stay indoors and limit time breathing hazardous air outdoors, People who must be outside for extended periods of time in smoky air area may benefit from using a tightfitting mask to reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals, the EPA.

To put on a mask correctly, make sure one strap is placed below the ears and one strap above. Then pinch the metal part of the mask tightly over the top of your nose. CDPH suggests that masks fit best on clean shaven skin.

Masks should be discarded when they get harder to breathe through, or if the inside gets dirty. Use a new one each day if possible, the CDPH advises.

Air quality concerns

With fires surrounding Siskiyou County, smoke from wildfires and the more dangerous Carr Fire has blanketed the area for weeks.

In addition to the carbon monoxide from wildfires, smoke from the Carr Fire also contains toxins from burnt plastic and other building materials which are more dangerous to the lungs.

Tuesday afternoon, Yreka’s air quality is listed the second worst in the United States, according to airnow.gov, with a Air Quality Index of 211, which is in the “unhealthy” category.

The AQI in Weed, Dunsmuir, and Mount Shasta was listed at 184, according to Weather Underground, which is also “unhealthy.”

From downtown Mount Shasta, the mountain is nowhere to be seen.

The Siskiyou Knights Pop Warner football team was slated to begin practice on Monday, but air quality concerns kept kids off the field.

The National Weather Service sent out a Severe Alert notice Tuesday morning, which warns of poor air quality. “Conditions will be similar for the next few days with winds allowing nearby smoke to fill the valleys,” the statement reads.

The notice includes the Tulelake area, the Shasta Valley including Montague, Weed, and Mount Shasta City, and the Scott Valley including Happy Camp, Fort Jones, and Etna. The warning also encompasses most of Modoc County including Alturas and the small town of Adin.