Wildfire smoke from quickly spreading North Bay fires has blown into the Bay Area, causing unhealthy air quality.
Contra Costa County has issued a health advisory for unhealthy air. Breathing smoky air can be unhealthy. People with cardiovascular or respiratory conditions such as asthma, lung or heart disease, young children, pregnant women and older adults are especially at risk.
There are things we can do to protect ourselves. See some steps below.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District, where I am a board member, has also issued a Spare the Air Alert, banning the use of fireplaces, wood and pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits or any other wood burning device (either indoors or outdoors).
Spare the Air Alerts are issued when ozone or particulate matter pollution is forecast to reach unhealthy levels.
Check the AirNow map for real-time air quality data.
Check the Air District's fine particulate matter data, which is updated hourly.
So far today, the air in West County has ranged from unhealthy to moderate. It changes, of course, depending on wind currents and the condition of the fires. Check these websites regularly to see most recent air quality data.
Protect your health from smoky air
If the air looks and smells smoky, these steps can help protect your health. Many of these overlap with what we're doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Stay indoors with windows and doors closed
- Avoid outdoor exercise
- Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated
- If too hot to stay inside, go to a cooling center.
- Set air conditioning units and car vents to recirculate, so they're not sucking in outside air
- Don't use gas, propane, or wood-burning stoves (wood burning not allowed on Spare the Air Days)
- Avoid frying or broiling meat
- If you already have an N-95 respirator mask and know how to fit it properly, use it outdoors. N-95 masks aren't for everyone, and may be harmful to people with heart conditions. Children should not wear these masks. Please don't buy new N-95 masks, since they are still needed for frontline health workers.
To register for Spare the Air alerts, text the word START to 817-57, or online at www.sparetheair.org,
or by phone at 1-800-HELP-AIR.
Meanwhile, I hope you'll join me in sending our best wishes to the many greater Bay Area neighbors in active fire zones, including those who have evacuated or are on evacuation watch. I have family members who have had to evacuate in Solano County.
With heat, smoke, and a pandemic, I believe it truly takes a village to support and help each other. Thanks for all of your help, whether it's for a family member or a community. It all makes a difference.