Smoke from intense wildfires in California and Oregon continues to heavily impact us in the Bay Area and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) has extended its Spare the Air Alert through Monday, September 14.
The unprecedented dark orange skies we experienced on Wednesday were the result of smoke particles at higher altitude scattering blue light and allowing only yellow-orange-red light to reach the surface. The marine layer (fog) kept much of that smoke from reaching the ground. However, the recent lack of winds has caused that smoke to fall to the surface and make our air quality unhealthy.
To keep track of air quality in your community, regularly check Air Now's Fire and Smoke Map
which includes both government installed and Purple Air sensors.
During a Spare the Air Alert, it is illegal for Bay Area residents and businesses to use their fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits or any other wood-burning devices.
Wildfire smoke is harmful - it can irritate our eyes and airways, and cause coughing, dry scratchy throat and irritated sinuses. Higher levels of particulate matter in our air (like we've been having) can trigger wheezing in those with asthma, emphysema or COPD.
Medical experts recommend that children, the elderly and those with respiratory and heart conditions take extra precaution to avoid exposure. All of us should avoid unnecessary outdoor activities.
Some additional suggestions:
- Avoid smoke exposure by staying indoors (and close your windows and doors) until smoke levels subside
- If you must be outdoors, adults should wear a properly fitted N-95 mask without the air valve if you have one (health workers have priority to these masks)
- Set your home air conditioning and car vents on re-circulate to prevent outside air from coming in. Also, make sure your home A/C filter is clean or replace it with a MIRV 13 or higher filter
- Avoid driving, but if you have to, avoid idling your engine
- Follow CDC guidance to protect yourself from wildfire smoke during the pandemic
Stay safe this weekend!