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February 06, 2023
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Preparing for Wildfire Smoke Season
Jackson County Public Health

Preparing for Wildfire Smoke Season

Jackson County is an area where wildfire risk is high. It is important to take steps now to prepare for wildfire season, which brings wildfire smoke into our area. Being prepared for fire and smoke season is especially important for the health of children, older adults, pregnant women and for people with chronic health conditions that include heart and lung disease.

Before a Wildfire

  • If any family member has heart or lung disease, including asthma, check with your doctor about what you should do during smoke events. Have a plan to manage your condition.

  • Stock up so you don’t have to go out when it’s smoky. Have several days of medications on hand. Buy groceries that do not need to be refrigerated or cooked because cooking can add to indoor air pollution.

  • Create a “clean room” in your home. Choose a room with no fireplace and as few windows and doors as possible, such as a bedroom. Use a portable air cleaner in the room.

  • Buy a portable air cleaner before there is a smoke event. Make sure it has high efficiency HEPA filters and it is the right size for the room. Change your current filters before the season.

  • Know how you will get alerts and health warnings, including air quality reports, public service announcements (PSAs), and social media warning you about high free risk or an active fire.

  • Ask an air conditioning professional what kind of high efficiency filters to use in your home’s system and how to close the fresh-air intake if your central air system or room air conditioner has one.

  • If you use a NIOSH N95 or P100 respirators it is important to learn how to use them. They are sold at many home improvement stores and online. It is important to know that these respirators or masks are not a good tool for everyone.  It is important to talk with your medical provider if you have heart and respiratory health conditions and these are not made to fit children's faces. Because these masks are being used by the general public without fit testing, it is important to know they may not provide full protection and it is important to use other effective methods, including staying indoors, reducing activity, and using HEPA air cleaners indoors to reduce overall smoke exposure. Another option that should be considered for sensitive individuals is temporary relocation out of the smoky area if possible.

  • Organize your important items ahead of time, including financial and personal documents. Know your evacuation routes and where to go if you have to evacuate. Make sure to prepare your children, and consider your pets when making an evacuation plan.

Resources on:

Keeping Your Indoor Air Quality Clean:

  1. Multnomah County: Video on how to keep your indoor air cleaner

  2. Learn about home air cleaners from EPA

  3. Find Certified Air Cleaning Devices

  4. Oregon Health Authority: information on reducing health effects of wildfire and more

Use of Respirators (NIOSH N95 or P100)

  1. Using a NIOSH N95 or P100 Respirator

  2. Ashland Smoke Wise website

Staying Informed during Wildfire Smoke Event

  1. Oregon Smoke Blog: will provide air advisories and smoke forecasting.  All health department and DEQ press releases will be posted here

  2. Oregon DEQ Air Quality Index: provides hourly air quality PM2.5 levels

  3. Download Oregon DEQ OregonAir mobile app search “OregonAir” on your phones App Store

  4. Jackson County Health and Human Services Facebook Page

  5. Jackson County Health and Human Services Website

  6. EPA Smoke Sense Mobile App. This is a citizen science project with information on current air quality from wildfire smoke.

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