Where is all the smoke coming from?

Wildfires are burning in Arizona, which is contributing to the inundation of smoke and adding to the poor air quality we are experiencing in Archuleta County. The two fires that are producing the majority of the smoke are the Newman Fire on the Coconino National Forest (https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6436/) and the Cellar Fire on the Prescott National Forest (https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6443/).

Currently there are no Air Quality Health Advisories in effect. However, if smoke becomes thick in your area take precautionary measures by reducing activity and remaining indoors. Public health officials offer a few tips to community members that are affected by the additional smoke in the air. Most healthy people have no more than minor or short-term health difficulties with smoke. However, excessive smoke can result in unhealthy or hazardous air quality. If smoke is affecting your health, contact your doctor.

Exposure to dense smoke can aggravate heart disease, asthma and other heart or respiratory diseases – especially for the very young and the elderly. Be aware and stay safe. Air quality advisories can be found at: https://www.colorado.gov/airquality

Those who are most likely to be affected by smoke are the elderly, young children, people with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema, COPD, and cardiovascular disease. Symptoms that are related to smoke exposure are: eye, nose and/or throat irritation- runny eyes and/or nose, coughing, sore throat. Trouble breathing or tightness of the chest are symptoms that may be a health emergency — at that time please call 911.

Also try to move in a place with cleaner air flow and utilize the following tips:
· Close windows and doors and stay inside. However, do not close up your home tightly if it makes it dangerously warm inside.
· Be extra vigilant at night. Nighttime air is usually more still than during the day and smoke can be worse. Close windows at night.
· Filter your air by running your air conditioner or evaporative cooler, but only if the system is filtered. You may also run a fan or air purifier. Keep the outdoor intake closed and be sure all your filters used are clean.
· Use HEPA room air filtration units if you have them.
· Avoid exercise or strenuous activities in heavy smoke.
· Do not rely on commercially-available dust masks, which do nothing to filter out the particles and gasses in smoke.
· Consider temporarily locating to another area if it’s safe to do so and you are able to so.

For more information on how smoke may affect your health, please visit: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/wood-smoke-and-health.

This story was posted on July 17, 2019.