Wildfire season is upon us here in Siskiyou County, and we here at the Public Health Department strive to cultivate healthy communities and keep our community safe and out of harms way as much as humanly possible. Here are a few tips in helping to protect you during these extreme fire conditions.
Siskiyou County Public Health Alert
Current Air Quality Links
- AirNow Current Conditions (link is external)- responsive map
- USFS Smoke Outlooks for NW California Fires (link is external) - current information
- California Smoke Information Blog (link is external) - current information
- Oregon Smoke Information Blog (link is external) (link is external)- current information
- Yreka Air Monitor (link is external) - current information
- Fort Jones Air Monitor (link is external) - current information
- Weed Air Monitor (link is external) - current information
Protect Yourself During Wildfire Season
If You're Sure You Have Time, Take Steps to Protect Your Home
- Close windows, vents, doors, venetian blinds and heavy drapes. Remove lightweight curtains.
- Shut off gas at the meter. Turn off pilot lights.
- Open the fireplace damper. Close fireplace screens.
- Move flammable furniture into the center of the home away from windows and sliding-glass doors.
- Turn on a light in each room to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.
- Seal attic and ground vents with pre-cut plywood or commercial seals.
- Turn off propane tanks.
- Place patio furniture inside.
- Connect the garden hose to outside taps.
- Set up the portable gasoline-powered pump.
- Place lawn sprinklers on the roof and near above-ground fuel tanks. Wet the roof.
- Wet or remove shrubs within 15 feet of your home.
- Gather fire tools.
Protect Yourself: Health Precautions for Californians
Instructions for Those Most Adversely Affected by Smoke Inhalation
Young children, the elderly and those with lung or heart ailments are especially vulnerable in smoky conditions and should follow these guidelines:
- Individuals with lung or heart disease should make sure that they are on their medication and have at least a five-day supply on hand.
- Individuals with asthma should consult their physician about an asthma management plan and stick to it during the unusually smoky conditions.
How to Tell if Smoke is Affecting You
- Smoke can cause:
- Scratchy throat.
- Irritated sinuses.
- Shortness of breath.
- Chest pain.
- Stinging eyes.
- Runny nose.
If You Have Heart Disease, Lung Disease or a Pre-Existing Respiratory Condition, Smoke Might Make Your Symptoms Worse
- People who have heart disease might experience:
- Inability to breathe normally.
- Cough with or without mucus.
- Chest discomfort.
- Wheezing and shortness of breath.
- Even healthy people may experience some of these symptoms in smoky conditions.
Following are ways to protect your health:
- Pay attention to local air quality reports. Listen and watch for news or health warnings about smoke.
- If you are advised to stay indoors, keep indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors closed unless it is extremely hot outside. 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. If you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed, seek shelter elsewhere.
- Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to reduce breathing problems. Room air cleaners, which utilize a HEPA filter, may reduce the number of irritating fine particles in indoor air.
Do not add to indoor pollution. When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns, such as candles, fireplaces or gas stoves. Do not vacuum because it stirs up particles already inside your home. Do not smoke because smoking puts even more pollution into the air.
Most dust masks are not effective in reducing smoke exposure during a wildfire because they are not designed to filter very small particles and do not fit well enough to provide an airtight seal around the wearer's mouth and nose.
- Surgical masks that trap small particles are designed to filter air coming out of the wearer's mouth and do not provide a good seal to prevent inhalation of small particles or gases in smoke.
- Inexpensive paper "comfort" or "dust" masks commonly found at hardware stores are designed to trap large particles and do not provide enough protection for your lungs.
- Mask use may give the wearer a false sense of security, which might encourage too much physical activity and time spent outdoors. Also, wearing a mask may actually be harmful to some people with heart or lung disease because it can make the lungs work harder to breathe.
Many types of masks cannot effectively filter out small smoke particles. They can however, provide some protection from the larger smoke particles that can become airborne when sweeping up soot or ash during cleanup activities. Some types of masks can also filter out up to 95% of small smoke particles. These masks are marked with one of the following: "P95," "R95" or "N95", and tend to be more expensive than ordinary dust masks. Other masks with higher ratings (marked "P100," "R100" or "N100") can filter out even more particles. If properly fit to the wearer's face, such masks can provide significant protection against particles in smoke. Without a good seal around the wearer's mouth and nose, even these masks will not be effective. Also, they do not protect against irritating gases in smoke.
Public Health Division Mission Statement
To promote and improve the health and wellness of the people of Siskiyou County through community empowerment and meaningful partnerships.
Public Health Division Vision Statement
The goal of Siskiyou County Public Health Division is to promote individual and community wellness, effectively monitor and evaluate health status, and develop policies and plans that support individual and community health efforts. It is our goal to accomplish this through confidential and respectful services, health education, prevention and outreach.
What is Public Health?
Public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play.
The 10 Essential Public Health Services
The 10 Essential Public Health Services describe the public health activities that all communities should undertake and serve as the framework for the NPHPS instruments. Public health systems should:
Monitor health status to identify and solve community health problems.
Diagnose and investigate health problems and health hazards in the community.
Inform, educate, and empower people about health issues.
Mobilize community partnerships and action to identify and solve health problems.
Develop policies and plans that support individual and community health efforts.
Enforce laws and regulations that protect health and ensure safety.
Link people to needed personal health services and assure the provision of health care when otherwise unavailable.
Assure competent public and personal health care workforce.
Evaluate effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population-based health services.
Research for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems.
September is National Childhood Obesity Month
Learn about ways to promote healthy growth in children and prevent obesity.
About 1 of every 3 (17%) children in the United States has obesity and certain groups of children are more affected than others. While there is no single or simple solution, National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month provides an opportunity for learning about ways to prevent and address this serious health concern.
Childhood obesity is a major public health problem.
- Children who have obesity are more likely to have obesity as adults. This can lead to lifelong physical and mental health problems, including diabetes and increased risk of certain cancers.
- Children who have obesity face more bullying and stigma.
- Childhood obesity is influenced by many factors. For some children and families factors include too much time spent in sedentary activities such as television viewing; a lack of bedtime routine leading to too little sleep; a lack of community places to get adequate physical activity; easy access to inexpensive, high calorie snacks and beverages; and/or a lack of access to affordable, healthier foods.
There are ways parents can help prevent obesity and support healthy growth in children.
- To help ensure that children have a healthy weight, energy balance is important. To achieve this balance, parents can make sure children get adequate sleep, follow recommendations on daily screen time, take part in regular physical activity, and eat the right amount of calories.
- Parents can substitute higher nutrient, lower calorie foods such as fruit and vegetables in place of foods with higher-calorie ingredients, such as added sugars and solid fats.
- Parents can serve children fruit and vegetables at meals and as snacks.
- Parents can ensure access to water as a no-calorie alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Parents can help children get the recommended amount of physical activity each day by encouraging them to participate in activities that are age-appropriate and enjoyable. There are a variety of age appropriate aerobic, muscle and bone-strengthening activities that kids can do.
Addressing obesity can start in the home, but also requires the support of communities.
- We can all take part in the effort to encourage more children to be physically active and eat a healthy diet.
- The federal government is currently helping low-income families get affordable, nutritious foods through programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP).
- State and local stakeholders including health departments, businesses, and community groups can help make it easier for families with children to find low-cost physical activity opportunities and buy healthy, affordable foods in their neighborhoods and community settings.
- Schools can help students' be healthy by putting into action policies and practices that support healthy eating, regular physical activity, and by providing opportunities for students to learn about and practice these behaviors.
- With more than 60% of US children younger than age 6 participating in some form of child care on a weekly basis, parents can engage with child care providers to support healthy habits at home and in child care settings.