BEND, Ore. - After several days of thick smoke blanketing much of the High Desert, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Deschutes County Public Health officials on Thursday advised people in and around Bend to take precautions from unhealthy levels of wildfire smoke.
Bend has experienced air quality that is unhealthy, officials said, and people who are outdoors may experience headaches, persistent cough, irritated sinuses, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat and chest pain. Sisters also has unhealthy air quality, with overnight smoke reaching hazardous levels due to smoke from the nearby Milli Fire.
Some people are at higher risk of health effects from wildfire smoke, including children, pregnant women, those over 65 and people with heart and lung conditions, including asthma. People who are sensitive to smoke should remain indoors, where air quality is generally better than outside.
People should also consider taking the following precautions:
Be aware of smoke concentrations in your area and avoid the places with highest concentrations.
Avoid strenuous outdoor activity in smoky conditions.
People suffering from asthma or other respiratory problems should follow their breathing management plans or contact their healthcare providers.
Local smoke levels can rise and fall rapidly, depending on weather factors including wind direction.
Other communities around the state with unhealthy air quality due to wildfire smoke include Grants Pass, Medford, Ashland, Cave Junction and Shady Cove and Brookings. The communities of Joseph, Madras, Burns and John Day have air quality that is unhealthy for sensitive groups.
While residents can view current air quality conditions at http://www.deq.state.or.us/aqi/ , Oregon's monitoring network does not capture air quality conditions in all communities. For this reason, it's important for residents to gauge air quality conditions where they live and take appropriate actions to protect themselves.
View guidance from the Oregon Health Authority on children and outdoor activities during periods of poor air quality: https://apps.state.or.us/Forms/Served/le8815h.pdf
Visit the Oregon Smoke Blog for more information: http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/