Valley Air District offers safety tips amid wildfire season

Valley Air District expects rough wildfire season due to recent grass fires in the region, encourages residents to create a clean air room in homes to avoid wildfire smoke

SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY – With triple digit temperatures in the forecast, the 2024 wildfire season has arrived and the time to prepare for wildfires is now.

The Valley Air District is encouraging residents to be prepared and plan for potential poor air quality due to wildfire smoke that might reach the Valley as we head into the hotter, drier time of the year. Predicting the severity of the fire season is always challenging, particularly with ever-changing conditions and weather patterns; however, recent grass fires throughout the Valley indicate this wildfire season may be a rough one.

The District reminds residents to change out air filters in their home and set up a clean air room for when smoke impacts become severe. A clean air room is a room in your home or apartment where you and your family can escape the worst of the smoke impacts from wildfires.

Here are the following steps to create a clean air room: First, choose a room where the  entire family can relax and spend the majority of their time. To prevent the smoke from entering the room, tightly close the doors and windows. In order to stay cool, run fans, window air conditioners or central air conditioning.

To filter the air in the room, use a store-bought air purifier or create a DIY air purifier. In order to reduce indoor air pollution, avoid using candles, open flame cooking or smoking. Spend as much time as possible in the clean air room to get the most benefits. The District also reminds locals that cloth masks don’t work for wildfire smoke and to use N95 masks instead.

Hot and dry conditions throughout the San Joaquin Valley can create the potential for wildfires and lead to smoke impacts in our region. Due to historic rain and snow this past winter, there is the risk of an increased build-up of undergrowth and potential for significant dry vegetation during the summer months. This will present a higher risk for hotter, faster-moving fires in mountain communities surrounding the Valley, often sending smoke into the San Joaquin Valley.

Wildfire smoke contains particulate matter, which can trigger asthma attacks, aggravate chronic bronchitis and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Those with existing respiratory conditions are especially susceptible to the a­­dverse health effects of this form of pollution. Anyone experiencing poor air quality due to wildfire s­moke should move indoors to a filtered, air-conditioned environment with windows closed and contact their primary care provider for more information.­­­­

The public can check the District’s Wildfire Prevention & Response page at www.valleyair.org/wildfires  for information about any wildfires affecting the Valley. In addition, anyone can follow air quality conditions by downloading the free “Valley Air” app on their mobile device or visit the EPA Fire and Smoke Map. Those residents in foothill or mountain communities should also listen to emergency alerts and be prepared to evacuate if needed.

For more information, visit www.valleyair.org or call a District office, Fresno (559-230-6000), Modesto (209-557-6400) or Bakersfield (661-392-5500).

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