News Release

For release: July 29, 2013

Contacts:
Byron Peterson, Western Region Air Quality, Medford, 541-776-6052
Larry Calkins, Eastern Region Air Quality, Pendleton, 541-278-4612
William Knight, Communications and Outreach, Portland, 503-229-5680

DEQ Urges Oregonians to Protect Themselves from Wildfire Smoke

Smoke levels fluctuate but have reached ‘unhealthy’ in Southwest Oregon communities. Levels are currently ‘moderate’ and could rise quickly in Lake County and in Northeast Oregon.

Wildfire season is underway. Wildfires in the region over the weekend sent smoke to parts of Southwest, Central and Northeast Oregon. This week, smoke from several fires started by lightning strikes over the weekend and larger fires already burning in the region may continue to drift into Oregon communities and rapidly degrade air quality.

 

In Cave Junction levels have reached ‘unhealthy’ while the Medford area is fluctuating between normal, moderate and unhealthy levels of smoke, similar to conditions in parts of the Klamath Basin. Levels reached ‘moderate’ near La Grande, Enterprise, Cove and Baker City this morning.

 

Conditions can change rapidly. Visit DEQ’s Air Quality Index for current air quality conditions.

 

Visit the Oregon Smoke blog for the latest information on fires burning in our region.

 

DEQ and local county health departments urge residents take the following precautions to avoid breathing problems or other symptoms from smoke:

 

·         Be aware of smoke concentrations in your area and avoid the places with highest concentrations.

·         Avoid smoke either by leaving the area or protecting yourself by staying indoors, closing all windows and doors and using a filter in your heating/cooling system that removes very fine particulate matter.

·         Avoid strenuous outdoor activity in smoky conditions. Those with heart or lung problems, as well as young children, are especially vulnerable.

·         People suffering from asthma or other respiratory problems should follow their breathing management plans or contact their healthcare providers.

 

Remember, local smoke levels can rise and fall rapidly, depending on weather factors including wind direction. People can conduct a visual assessment of smoke levels to quickly get a sense of air quality levels and take precautions. If people have additional concerns, they should contact the nearest regional or local public health agency for the latest in health conditions from smoke.

 

For more information about local conditions and precautions you can take:

·         Tune to local radio and TV stations and the Weather Channel in affected areas that may include the very latest fire information in news programming and weather reports.

·         Obtain a dedicated NOAA Weather Radio receiver, which will alert you 24 hours a day to hazards in your area.

 

Visit DEQ’s Air Quality Index at: www.deq.state.or.us/aqi/index.aspx

 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wildfire page: www.cdc.gov/features/wildfires/

 

Oregon Health Authority: Public Health: http://public.health.oregon.gov/Preparedness/Prepare/Pages/PrepareForWildfire.aspx

 

Visit the National Weather Service for current and predicted weather conditions.

 

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