Lane County is nestled in the beautiful Willamette Valley, where it is home to many national forests and state parks. The hot, dry summer months have high wildfire risk and danger. The smoke from wildfires can impact Lane County from as far away as California, Washington, Idaho, and even across the Pacific Ocean. However, we also experience wildfires right here at home. Check current conditions with our air quality monitoring stations. They update every hour, 24 hours 7 days a week.
As we approach summer, LRAPA would like to encourage residents to prepare for wildfire season and familiarize themselves with the various resources available:
- The Lane County Public Health offers lots of info on wildfire smoke and health. They are a major partner with us regarding wildfire smoke episodes.
- The EPA has numerous resources detailing the health impacts people experience as a result of wildfire smoke and what you can do to protect yourself and your family.
- The Oregon Health Authority also has health-related resources, as well as information on respirators and indoor air pollution during wildfire season.
- The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has a statewide air quality map with Lane County's information on it. They also have an app for your smartphones called "OregonAir" that can send you notifications about your local air quality.
- The Oregon Smoke Blog will have the most up to date forecasting information around fires and wildfire smoke across the state. There is another air quality map here that also shows you the location of nearby wildfires.
Are masks effective during wildfires? The best way to protect your health is to remove yourself from a smoky situation. If you are considering a mask, keep in mind that surgical masks and dust masks do not filter fine particles. N95 respirators are available for purchase at most hardware stores but they are not reliable unless they are fit-tested by a certified professional. Wearing a mask may create a false sense of security when they are not properly filtering our particles and creating more difficulty breathing. Click here for more info on mask wear.
What about DIY Air Filters? We've relied heavily on our friends at Puget Sound Clean Air Agency in the Seattle area for information. They've developed a how-to video on creating a cheap, efficient box fan air filter for helping clean your indoor air. Check out their link and videos here.
Your Health and Wildfire Smoke
Wildfire smoke is especially harmful for seniors, children under 12, and people with pre-existing heart/lung conditions. Inhaling smoke is never healthy, and we advise people to protect themselves by paying attention to local air quality reports, keeping indoor air clean, following your doctor’s advice, and evacuate if needed. For more information, please see our guide about the health risks associated with wildfire smoke. Health Threats from Wildfire Smoke (PDF)
Resources and More Information
- Oregon Smoke Blog
- Incident Information System: InciWeb
- Active Fire Mapping Program
- Northwest Interagency Coordination Center
- Wildfire- Oregon Department of Forestry
- Oregon Health Authority - Wildfire Smoke Impacts
- Oregon Department of Environmental Quality: Wildfires and Air Quality
- NWS Smoke Forecast for Pacific NW