Idaho Smoke Map

Idaho Smoke Map Legend

**(Preliminary Data Warning: Data found on the map shown below is preliminary and is subject to change. Data is in local standard time format - no adjustment for daylight savings time.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Summer Wildfire Potential Outlook

Summer is here and it’s an odd one so far. It’s been cool and rainy for a good chunk of June and a lot of us are still practicing some form of social distancing when usually we’d all have a few BBQs under our belts by now. Instead, many of us have spent a lot of time in our homes and we’re ready to get out and enjoy our beautiful state. Hopefully you all dropped in and read about how to become Smoke Ready last week. If you didn’t, scroll on down and have a read.

Each month, the National Interagency Fire Center Predictive Services produces monthly wildfire outlooks. These ones below were released on June 1st and next week on July1st updated versions will be released. When these were published at the beginning of June, they were predicting that July and August would have an “above normal” significant wildfire potential for most of the state. Normal means we should expect the usual amount of significant fires for the area at typical times and intervals and Above Normal means there is a greater than usual likelihood of significant fires for the area.

Check back next week when we’ll post the most updated outlook!!



Friday, June 19, 2020

Smoke Ready Week 2020

Summer is Coming: Wildfire Smoke Preparations

Now is the time to make a plan for how you’ll take care of yourself when the smoke comes. We’ve talked about your health, how to make a cleaner indoors space, and how to stay informed. It will take some time to get everything in order before a smoke event occurs.

Read through these steps and make a plan for when a wildfire is impacting your air quality.

1. Make a medical plan. Get in touch with your doctor now if you have any questions about how smoke might affect your health. Don’t wait until smoke arrives. If you have asthma or other lung disease, follow your doctor’s directions about taking your medicines and following your asthma management plan. Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen. If you have heart or lung disease, if you are an older adult, or if you have children, talk with your doctor about whether and when you should leave the area. When smoke is heavy for a prolonged period of time, fine particles can build up indoors, even though you may not be able to see them.

2. If you are at risk, stock up on medications and food before smoke becomes an issue. Leaving the house during a smoke event can put smoke sensitive individuals at risk. Try to choose foods that don’t require much cooking because cooking adds to indoor air pollution.

3. Make an evacuation plan. Prepare ahead of time in case you need to evacuate because of heavy smoke or nearby fire. Consider the needs of all family members, prepare your children, and think about your pets as well.

3. Pay attention to local air quality reports. Stay alert to smoke-related news coverage or health warnings. Sign up for air quality alerts. If you didn’t before, read THIS to learn where to get information about wildfires and local air quality reports. Three (3) day air quality forecasts are available at DEQ’s website.

                                 

           

4. If you are advised to stay indoors, take steps to keep indoor air as clean as possible. When smoke levels are high, try to avoid using anything that burns, such as wood fireplaces, gas logs, gas stoves - and even candles! Vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home – use a vacuum with a HEPA filter or wet mop instead. Avoid smoking. Contact Project Filter for free quit support by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit projectfilter.org.

5. Run your air conditioner if you have one. Keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent bringing additional smoke inside. Yesterday, we talked about maintaining a cleaner indoor air space. Read through that (again) if you need a refresher. Note: If you don't have an air conditioner, staying inside with the windows closed may be dangerous in extremely hot weather. In these cases, seek alternative shelter (before you make that decision review this CDC guidance).

                                            

6. Use common sense. If it looks smoky outside, it's probably not a good time to mow the lawn or go for a run. And it's probably not a good time for your children to play outdoors.

It's officially summer tomorrow but we can all hope for a mild wildfire season like we had last year. Check back next week for a look at what the National Interagency Coordination Center is predicting for us!


Thursday, June 18, 2020

Smoke Ready Week 2020

Smoke and COVID-19: Creating a Cleaner Indoor Air Space

N95 respirators and public clean air shelters are usually recommended for protection from wildfire smoke. However, N95 masks might be hard to find during the COVID-19 pandemic, cloth face coverings offer little protection against wildfire smoke, and social distancing guidelines may limit capacity at public facilities operating as clean air shelters. Creating a clean air space within your home is the best way to protect yourself from wildfire smoke during the pandemic. If you are close to an active wildfire, always be prepared to evacuate if told to do so.

Outdoor smoke can enter your home through open windows, vents, air conditioning systems, and through small openings like cracks, joints, and around windows.  Here are some ways to have the cleanest indoor air possible when there is smoke in your area:

                                    

  • Keep doors and windows closed but pay attention to temperature forecasts and stay safe in the heat.  Use air conditioners, heat pumps, fans, and window shades to keep your space cool.
  • If possible, change your ventilation system to re-circulate indoor air so that it does not bring in smoke.
  • Make sure your HVAC filter is clean and installed properly.
  • Upgrade your HVAC filter to a high MERV rated filter and run the fan as often as possible (click here to read about MERV rating and filters).
  • Consider purchasing a portable air cleaner. Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has more information about portable air cleaners. You may also consider making one yourself (check out this video by the Washington Department of Ecology. It’s also available in Spanish.).

For more information about cleaner air shelters, read through this advice from the CDC. Check with your local leaders about their plans to provide cleaner air shelters and reduce the risk of transmitting the virus that causes COVID-19.

Come back tomorrow and we’ll talk about more actions you can take to prepare yourself for wildfire season.


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Smoke Ready Week 2020

Wildfire Smoke and Your Health

It’s Smoke Ready Week. Time to prepare yourself for the smoke and wildfire season that is hot on our heels!


Yesterday, we posted about what is in wildfire smoke and one of those pollutants is particulate matter. Particulate matter can cause a lot of problems such as:

  • Increased risk of hospital admissions and premature death in those with existing heart and lung diseases –asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart disease, or ischemic heart disease. Older people are especially susceptible.
  • Increased susceptibility to respiratory infections, likely including COVID-19.
  • Aggravation of existing respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic bronchitis.
  • Lung irritation and inflammation, causing coughing and shortness of breath, especially for people with existing lung disease and children (whose lungs are still developing).

Come back tomorrow to learn about how you can create cleaner indoor air quality for yourself!

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Smoke Ready Week 2020

What’s in wildfire smoke?

Smoke contains numerous pollutants that are harmful to your health including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter (PM).  These two types of pollutant are the two most likely to affect your health. VOCs are chemical compounds that are gases at room temperature. They make your eyes sting and water and cause you general discomfort.

Particulate matter (PM) on the other hand is so small it can bypass your body’s defense system and travel to your lungs where it can easily pass into the bloodstream. Once it’s in your bloodstream it can cause all sorts of health problems.  Tomorrow we’ll discuss what smoke can do to smoke sensitive individuals.


Monday, June 15, 2020

Smoke Ready Week 2020

Stay Informed about Air Quality

An easily accessible way to understand air quality is to use the AQI. AQI stands for Air Quality Index. It’s a simple way to communicate air quality and how it might affect your health. For a more detailed explanation of AQI and how it correlates to pollutant levels, read this and this.

An AQI value of 100 is the threshold where air quality crosses over from “moderate” to “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” Check out the image below to see what the values are, who needs to be concerned at each level, and what they should do.

EPA AQI Categories
 

There are lots of resources available to help you find out if there are nearby wildfires and if the air quality in your area is deteriorated. Here’s a list of some to check out and bookmark:

·        AirNow - https://fire.airnow.gov/

o   Shows you air quality and satellite detected fires on a single map.

·        AirNow Enviroflash - http://www.enviroflash.info/signup.cfm

o   Sign up using your email or telephone number to receive air quality forecasts for your area. You can choose the minimum air quality level at which you want to receive forecasts.

·       EPA Smoke Sense Mobile App – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=sti.com.ewhsa&hl=en_US

o   Find this in Google Play or the Apple App Store. Search for “EPA’s SmokeSense.” Enter your zip code and get air quality information, nearby fires, and other important smoke and health information.

·       Daily Air Quality Forecasts and Outdoor Open Burning Map http://www2.deq.idaho.gov/air/AQIPublic/Map/OutdoorBurn

o   Provides a daily air quality forecast and informs you of any open burning bans in your area.

·        InciWeb - https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/

o   InciWeb is an interagency all-risk incident information management system that provides a single source for incident related information for the public.

·        MODIS Today - http://ge.ssec.wisc.edu/modis-today/

o   Satellite imagery of fires and smoke plumes when visible

Check back throughout the week as we give you lots of tips on how to prepare yourself for a smoky summer and protect your health!