With fire season now extending into the fall. It's important for people to understand how wildfire smoke impacts people and how to protect themselves.
The California Environmental Protection Agency held a virtual media briefing today to discuss the air quality and health concerns associated with the widespread smoke.
A website, visiting California Resources Board breaks down how people can protect themselves.
California Air Resources Board Spokesperson Amy MacPherson said,
"the reason we are sharing this information today is so people can take those proactive steps to protect themselves now. Air quality changes by the minute during wildfire season, one shift in the wind and all of sudden you can get socked in with smoke before you know it."
A way to prepare is by checking the current air quality using the AirNow Fire and Smoke Map on fire.airnow.gov.
The environmental protection agency released updated versions in July 2021.
The information is enhanced when you look at the sensor on the map and you can get detailed information on the current air quality for a specific location.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency AirNow Program Leader Phil Dickerson said, "this is one of the reasons we created the air now fire and smoke map is to give people a tool for people to see how rapidly air quality can change. We all have seen that air quality can change really rapidly throughout the day when fires are around and when there’s shifting winds and all that sort of thing and that map provides an easy way to keep up with the effects on smoke of on air quality."
Another way to prepare is to take action no matter the size of the fire.
U.S. Forest Service Interagency Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program Leader Peter Lahm said, "it’s about if the fire starts small and we have a couple in Southern California literally right now that are smaller than the monsters up North, the idea is it could become a large fire and as it gets larger more communities are impacted. And the need to be more active and thinking about that and to be out there so you can reduce your exposure by getting medicine in advance and the opportunity to put some food up so you don't have to go out in those conditions."
The U.S. Forest Service Interagency Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program puts together daily smoke outlooks and that information can help inform the public about local smoke impacts.
“It’s so important that we get folks to understand you gotta be smoke ready you gotta be ready ahead of time and don’t wait until the smoke shows up we’ve got great tools out there," said MacPherson.
Other important safety tips that are important when dealing with wildfire smoke is to wear an N-95 mask and limit your time outdoors.