NEWS RELEASE--FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE DATE: August 14, 2014
Contact: Tom Shanahan
Public Information Officer
Smoke in Ketchum area causes “hazardous” air quality;
conditions in Treasure Valley also deteriorate
Air quality in the Wood River Valley has reached a “hazardous” level because of smoke from wildfires, prompting public health officials to urge all residents to stay indoors and avoid physical activity until the air quality improves.
In the Treasure Valley, air quality is listed as “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” with public health officials recommending that children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with medical conditions such as asthma should limit outdoor activity and prolonged physical exertion.
The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) does not expect weather patterns to significantly change over the next two days, meaning that air quality conditions may not improve in the near future.
People exposed to smoke may experience symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath. Older adults, infants, children and people with medical conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart disease are often more affected. People who use inhalers for asthma or other conditions should keep them close at hand. People are advised to seek medical treatment for uncontrolled coughing, wheezing, choking, or if they have difficulty breathing once they move back indoors.
To reduce your exposure to smoke and protect your health, public health officials advise:
Not all areas of the state have air quality monitors, so people are encouraged to be cautious if visibility is affected because of smoke and particulates from wildfires. If visibility is reduced to less than 6 miles, sensitive groups should limit activity. If visibility is reduced to less than three miles, air quality is considered unhealthy for everyone. If visibility deteriorates to less than 1.5 miles, it is considered very unhealthy or hazardous.
Daily updates on air quality conditions at various locations in Idaho are available on DEQ's Air Quality Reports and Forecasts webpage. For areas where air quality monitors are not available, the Visibility Range and AQI Table can help determine the necessary precautions to take. For more complete information about wildfires in your area visit the Idaho Smoke Information Blog.
For more information on protecting your health from wildfire smoke, visit Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Wildfire Smoke and Your Health webpage. On this site, people may find the Community Guide for Staying Healthy During Wildfire Smoke Events and the Activity Guidelines for Wildfire Smoke Events particularly helpful.