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News Release: DEQ, Public Health Officials Urge Residents to Take Precautions from Wildfire Smoke

Statewide, OR—The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and public health officials throughout Central and Southern Oregon are urging residents to take precautions from wildfire smoke.

On Sunday morning, air quality monitors in Sisters and Prospect showed hazardous air quality readings over the past 24 hours. Other monitors, including Cave Junction and Shady Cove, showed air quality that was unhealthy for sensitive groups, including young children, the elderly and those with asthma. A number of monitors in Southern and Central Oregon registered moderate air quality meaning unusually sensitive people should take precautions.

When air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups those groups should reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion. When air quality is hazardous, everyone should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors and those with hear or lung disease should remain indoors.

A number of large wildfires are burning throughout Oregon. Air conditions can change rapidly depending on weather and wildfire growth. Residents can view current air quality conditions at The index also offers guidance on what precautions various groups should take depending on air quality.

Specific smoke forecasts for areas near large wildfires are also available at the Oregon Smoke Blog for more information:

Oregon's monitoring network does not capture air quality conditions in all communities. For this reason, it's important for residents to gauge air quality conditions where they live and take appropriate actions to protect themselves. One helpful tool is the 5-3-1 visibility index

People can take the following precautions: 

- Be aware of smoke concentrations in your area and avoid the places with highest concentrations. 

- Avoid strenuous outdoor activity in smoky conditions. 

- If you have heart disease, asthma or other respiratory ailments, or are over 65, you have a higher risk of illness from wildfire smoke. 

- Small children and pregnant women are also at increased risk. People in any of these groups might consider leaving the area until air quality improves. 

- People suffering from asthma or other respiratory problems should follow their breathing management plans or contact their healthcare providers.
No matter how far you can see or what the air quality monitors are reporting, if someone feels that they are having health effects from the wildfire smoke exposure, they should take extra care to stay inside or get to an area with better air quality.  They should also see their doctor or health professional as needed.

Remember, local smoke levels can rise and fall rapidly, depending on weather factors including wind direction. 

Media Contacts:
Katherine Benenati, Public Affairs Specialist, DEQ, 541-600-6119,    
Teresa Mutschler, Douglas Public Health Network, 541-440-3571
Tanya Phillips, Jackson County Public Health, 541-230-0098