Montrose, COLO.—Multiple wildfires in southwestern Colorado as well as smoke from additional fires in the western United States have contributed to poor air quality across the county. Montrose County Public Health Department would like to 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.
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.
Always be prepared to evacuate if any fire is in your path and plan ahead. Your evacuation route and destination can save your life. Ready Colorado has great resources for emergency planning and preparedness at https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dhsem/readycolorado-0. To sign-up for CodeRED alerts from the Montrose County Sheriff’s Office, please visit: https://public.coderedweb.com/CNE/en-US/BF7ED953CC69. For more information on Montrose County Public Health, please visit montrosecounty.net. For information on wildfires burning in Montrose County, please visit www.westslopefireinfo.com or https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/.