Air quality advisory issued for Eagle County as wildfires rage around the region | VailDaily.com

Air quality advisory issued for Eagle County as wildfires rage around the region

The Lake Christine Fire near Basalt is pouring smoke into Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin counties. State health officials issued an air quality advisory for the area.

VAIL —Wildfires around the region convinced state health officials to issue an air quality health advisory Thursday, July 5.

The Lake Christine fire is pouring smoke into southwestern Eagle and southeastern Garfield counties, which will probably continue through Friday morning, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said in issuing the advisory.

Wildfire smoke also has state health officials issuing air quality advisories in several other counties around Colorado.

Conditions will gradually improve as the smoke lifts and remains close to the fire, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said.

Chris Lindley, Eagle County's public health director, said you should limit your exposure to strenuous outdoor activities.

"When visibility is less than five miles, people should remain indoors, if possible," Lindley said.

Recommended Stories For You

That's especially true for people with heart disease, respiratory trouble, the very young and the elderly, Lindley said.

"If you're feeling the effects — things like runny nose and sore throat — stay inside if you can," Lindley said.

Take no comfort in a "comfort" mask if you're trying to protect your lungs from wildfire smoke.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said those comfort masks, or dust masks found at hardware stores, are designed to trap large particles, such as sawdust. The masks will not protect your lungs from small particles found in wildfire smoke.

"Smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and other plant materials. Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases," the CDC said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

WHO IS AT GREATEST RISK FROM WILDFIRE SMOKE?

• People who have heart or lung diseases, such as heart disease, chest pain, lung disease or asthma, are at higher risk from wildfire smoke.

• Older adults are more likely to be affected by smoke.

• Children are more likely to be affected by health threats from smoke. Children’s airways are still developing and they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults. In addition, children often spend more time outdoors engaged in activity and play.

TAKE STEPS TO DECREASE YOUR RISK FROM WILDFIRE SMOKE

• Check local air quality reports. Listen and watch for news or health warnings about smoke. Find out if your community provides reports about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index. In addition, pay attention to public health messages about taking safety measures.

• Consult local visibility guides, if they are available. Some communities have monitors that measure the amount of particles that are in the air. In the western part of the United States, some states and communities provide guidelines to help people determine if there are high levels of particulates in the air by how far they can see.

• Keep indoor air as clean as possible if you are advised to stay indoors. Keep windows and doors closed. Run an air conditioner if you have one, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside. If you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed, seek shelter in a designated evacuation center or away from the affected area.

• Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution. Burning candles, fireplaces or gas stoves can increase indoor pollution. Vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home, contributing to indoor pollution. Smoking also puts even more pollution into the air.

• Follow the advice of your doctor or other health care provider about medicines and about your respiratory management plan if you have asthma or another lung disease. Consider evacuating the area if you are having trouble breathing.

• Do not rely on dust masks for protection. Paper “comfort” or “dust” masks commonly found at hardware stores are designed to trap large particles, such as sawdust. These masks will not protect your lungs from the small particles found in wildfire smoke.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention