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Thick smoke prompts tips from C.O. health officials

Can't eliminate issues but can minimize them

BEND, Ore. - Smoke from wildland fires across Oregon has created unhealthy air quality in Bend over the last few days, and we expect that these conditions may persist at least into next week, according to the Pendleton office of the National Weather Service. This level of air pollution is harmful to all, but here are a few ways to minimize the effects, from the Deschutes County Health Department and the Oregon Health Authority:

- Avoid areas of highest concentrations of smoke, if possible

- Keep indoor air as clean as possible by closing windows and doors to minimize smoke in your home

- If possible, use a high efficiency (HEPA) air filter

- Avoid strenuous outdoor activity in smoky conditions

- Reduce the amount of time spent outdoors

- People with asthma or other respiratory problems should carefully follow their breathing management        

  plans and stay in contact with their healthcare providers

- Call 9-1-1 if you are experiencing health symptoms due to smoke

- Paper or dust masks do not offer reliable respiratory protection from smoke: an N95 mask 

  (properly fitted, available at building supply and hardware stores) offers some protection from the 

   particulates in smoke, but may increase breathing effort.

- Drink plenty of water

- Consider leaving a very smoky area if you have health conditions that put you at higher risk for illness 

   from wildfire smoke

Your best information resource may be your own health care provider. 

Again, if you experience serious health symptoms, call 9-1-1.

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And from Crook County Health:

County public health officials want to remind people across the state to take precautions as smoke from multiple wildfires around Oregon and Washington affects the air quality.  The combination of high temperatures and wildfire smoke around the area may increase the risk of illness especially for older adults, young children, and people with asthma, respiratory, or heart conditions.  

Public health officials urge all residents to take the following precautions to avoid health problems during hot, smoky conditions.

  • Reduce the amount of time spent outdoors. This can usually provide some protection, especially in a tightly closed, air-conditioned house in which the air conditioner can be set to re-circulate air instead of bringing in outdoor air.
  • Reduce the amount of time engaged in vigorous outdoor physical activity. This can be an important and effective strategy to decrease exposure to inhaled air pollutants and minimize health risks during a smoke event.
  • Reduce other sources of indoor air pollution such as burning cigarettes and candles; using gas, propane, and wood burning stoves and furnaces; cooking; and vacuuming.
  • Individuals with heart disease or lung diseases such as asthma should follow their health care providers’ advice about prevention and treatment of symptoms.

Also things to consider:

  • Remember to stay hydrated.  Drink between 2-4 cups of water per hour if working outdoors.  
  • Apply sunscreen with SPF 15 or more 10 minutes before going out; re-apply every two hours.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Take cool showers to lower your body temperature.
  • Never leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car.
  • Always wear a life jacket if you are on the water. Remember to be safe around water.
  • Check on at-risk friends, family, and neighbors.
  • Know symptoms of Heat Exhaustion (heavy sweating, weakness, pale and clammy, fainting and vomiting).

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