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CONTACT: Dawnelle Marshall                                            
Douglas County Health Department                           Douglas County, Oregon
                 High Temperatures and Smoky Air Could Cause Health Problems
Douglas County public health officials urge people across the State to take precautions as temperatures and air quality reach potentially unhealthy levels.
The National Weather Service is predicting weather that could bring prolonged wildfire smoke exposure to communities in central Douglas County. Smoke levels can rise or fall depending on weather factors including wind direction.
“The combination of high temperatures and wildfire smoke in the area may increase the risk of illness, especially for older adults, young children, and people with asthma, respiratory, or heart conditions,” said Dawnelle Marshall, Public Health administrator.
Public health officials urge all Oregonians to take the following precautions to avoid health problems during hot, smoky conditions.
· Be aware of smoke concentrations in your area. Residents can get the latest information by visiting the Oregon Smoke blog: or call 2-1-1 Info.    
· Avoid outdoor activities when air quality is unhealthy and hazardous.  Those with heart or lung problems, as well as young children, are especially vulnerable.
· Avoid smoke either by leaving the area or protecting yourself by staying indoors, closing all windows and doors.
· Reduce other sources of indoor air pollution such as burning cigarettes and candles; using gas, propane, and wood burning stoves and furnaces; cooking; and vacuuming.
· Individuals with heart disease or lung diseases such as asthma should follow their health care providers’ advice about prevention and treatment of symptoms.
· If you are highly sensitive to the smoke you may consider leaving the area until the air quality improves.
 Most of the people in Douglas County live in areas that do not have air quality monitors.  Using the information below may help you determine what actions you can take to minimize health effects.

Estimating visibility using the 5-3-1 Index
Determine the limit of your visual range by looking for distant targets or familiar landmarks such as mountains, mesas, hills, or buildings at known distances (miles). The visual range is that point at which these targets are no longer visible.
Ideally, the viewing of any distance targets should be made with the sun behind you. Looking into the sun or at an angle increases the ability of sunlight to reflect off of the smoke, and thus making the visibility estimate less reliable.
Once distance has been determined, follow this simple guide:
If over 15 miles
Air quality is generally good.
Between 5-15 miles
Air quality is moderate and beginning to deteriorate, and is generally healthy, except possibly for smoke sensitive persons. The general public should avoid prolonged exposure if conditions are smoky to the point where visibility is closer to the 5 mile range.
If under 5 miles
Air quality is unhealthy for young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness. These people should minimize outdoor activity.
If under 3 miles
Air quality is unhealthy for everyone. Young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness should avoid all outdoor activities.
If under 1 mile
Air quality is very unhealthy, and in some cases may be hazardous. Everyone should avoid all outdoor activities.
Using the 5-3-1 Visibility Index
Distance you can see*
You are:
You have:
·  An adult
·  A teenager
·  An older child
·  Age 65 and over
·  Pregnant
·  A young child
·  Asthma
·  Respiratory illness
·  Lung or heart disease
5 miles
check visibility
minimize outdoor activity
3 miles
minimize outdoor activity
stay inside
1 mile
stay inside
stay inside

No matter how far you can see, if you feel like you are having health effects from smoke exposure, take extra care to stay inside or get to an area with better air quality.  You should also see your doctor or other health professional as needed.
* less reliable under high humidity conditions
 For more information:
Oregon Smoke blog, for the latest on wildfire smoke and air quality across the state