Tips for staying healthy in smoky conditions – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

Jackson County public health officials are offering advice on how to deal with wildfire smoke. File photo

Jackson County Public Health officials are offering advice

Jackson County Public Health advises people to be aware of smoky conditions and to take protective measures when air quality worsens.

Smoke levels can rise and fall quickly based on changing winds and the volume of smoke produced by local and regional fires, public health officials said.

See the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality air quality website at for updates on smoke conditions at monitoring sites across the state, including Ashland, Talent, Medford, Shady Cove and Grants Pass. To get the DEQ mobile app, search for OregonAir in your phone’s app store.

Be aware that the number of monitoring sites is limited and that contamination levels may be higher in some areas, public health officials advise.

DEQ has issued an air quality advisory through Friday for Jackson and Klamath counties due to smoke from the McKinney Fire, which has burned more than 56,000 acres near Yreka in Northern California.

Visit the Oregon Smoke Information Blog at for updated air quality advisories, wildfire smoke forecasts and other information.

Exposure to wildfire smoke can irritate the lungs, cause inflammation, impair immune function, worsen chronic heart and lung disease, and increase susceptibility to respiratory infections. Particles larger than 10 micrometers usually irritate only the eyes, nose and throat. Fine particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers can be inhaled deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream, public health officials warn.

People known to be particularly vulnerable to smoke exposure include:

Children under 18 and adults 65 and older People with chronic health conditions such as heart or lung disease, asthma and diabetes People of low socioeconomic status, including those who are homeless and with limited access to medical care People who have had COVID-19 19 and are recovering from the virus

In smoky conditions, public health officials recommend that people take the following precautions:

Be aware of smoke concentrations in your area and avoid places with higher concentrations. Avoid strenuous outdoor activities in smoky conditions. Stay indoors with doors and windows closed. Use air conditioning to keep your home cool if it’s too hot. Reduce or eliminate other activities that produce airborne particles, such as smoking, using gas or wood-burning stoves or ovens, spraying aerosols such as air fresheners, frying or roasting meat, burning candles or incense, and vacuuming. High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters and electrostatic precipitator (ESP) filters can help provide protection. HEPA filters trap or remove harmful particles in the air. If these options are not available, create a makeshift air filter by attaching a filter to a box fan. When traveling in a car, keep the windows and vents closed, the air conditioning on, and the ventilation to recirculate. Drink lots of water. Staying hydrated can keep your airways moist, which helps reduce symptoms of respiratory irritation such as a scratchy throat, runny nose, and cough. People exposed to smoky conditions who have asthma or other respiratory problems should follow their respiratory management plans or contact their health care providers.

If you must be outdoors when the air quality is poor, wearing a special mask called a particulate respirator can also help protect your lungs from wildfire smoke. Choose a mask labeled that has NIOSH and N95 or P100 printed on it.

Make sure the respirator fits properly and that air is not leaking from the sides. People with facial hair will not be able to get a good seal. If the mask does not fit properly, the respirator will not provide good protection and may give the wearer a false sense of protection.

Particulate respirators can make breathing difficult, increase breathing and heart rate, and contribute to heat stress. They should only be used by people with heart and respiratory diseases under the supervision of a doctor. Even healthy adults may find that the increased effort required to breathe makes it uncomfortable to wear a respirator for more than short periods, public health officials said.

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