With the recent wildfires in Monterey County, there has been a significant change in our local air quality. Smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and other plant materials. Smoke can irritate your eyes, respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases.
Who is at greatest risk from wildfire smoke?
Those that have heart or lung disease. Congestive heart failure, angina, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (including emphysema), or asthma, are at higher risk from wildfire smoke. People with these conditions are at a higher risk of having health problems than people without these conditions.
- Older adults are more likely to be affected by smoke. This may be due to their increased risk of heart and lung diseases.
- Children are more likely to be affected by health threats from smoke due to their airways still developing and they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults. In addition, children often spend more time outdoors engaged in activity and play.
Take steps to decrease your risk from wildfire smoke:
- Check local air quality reports. Listen and watch for news or health warnings about smoke and wildfire updates and current evacuation orders. http://air.mbuapcd.org/
- Keep indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors closed. Run an air conditioner if you have one, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside.
- Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution. Burning candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves can increase indoor pollution. Vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home, contributing to indoor pollution. Smoking also puts even more pollution into the air.
- Follow the advice of your doctor or other healthcare provider about medicines and your respiratory management plan if you have asthma or another lung disease. Consider evacuating the area if you are having trouble breathing. Call for further advice if your symptoms worsen.
At Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital
SVMH has taken extra measures to help the air quality here at the hospital as well. Engineering has decreased the in-take air and increased the return air. Highly sensitive areas within the hospital are equipped with highly concentrated HEPA filters in the ventilation system. SVMH has ordered additional charcoal filters as a preventative measure if the air quality conditions become more severe. We continue to ask that windows and doors accessing the outside be kept closed during this time as advised by the CDC.
Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System is supporting firefighters and the firefighting efforts with donations of needed medical supplies and support. We also have donation barrels on site at the hospital and are encouraging all staff to donate items requested by volunteer firefighters.
We appreciate the efforts of all of the fire crews working to protect our community. We encourage you to take any necessary precautions during this time of compromised air quality to protect yourself and your family.