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News Release: Be ready for smoke as Oregon’s wildfire season looms, officials urge

Brookings during the Chetco Bar fire in 2017, Photo by Shawn Weagle, National Weather Service

With wildfire season just around the corner, it’s time for people in Oregon to make sure their homes are ready to resist smoke, they know how to track air quality conditions and they understand how to safeguard their health during severe smoke.

To mark Wildfire Awareness Month, the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality are offering ways to prepare for wildfire smoke.

A good first step: Become familiar with DEQ’s Air Quality Index.

The color-coded Air Quality Index provides current air quality conditions. The index also includes specific health-based recommendations. It ranks air quality as follows: Green is good. Yellow is moderate. Orange is unhealthy for sensitive groups. Sensitive groups include those who have heart and lung conditions, such as asthma, children, pregnant women and the elderly. Red is unhealthy, meaning everyone may begin to experience health effects and should limit their time outdoors. Purple is very unhealthy for all groups. Maroon is hazardous.

You can check the current local air quality conditions on DEQ’s Air Quality Index or download the OregonAIR app on your smart phone. You can sign up to receive air pollution advisories at

Smoke can worsen some medical conditions and irritate people’s eyes and lungs.
OHA urges people to prepare for severe smoke events with these steps:
  • Consider developing or updating your breathing plan if you have asthma, or other lung and heart conditions. Consult your health care provider.
  • Make sure windows and doors seal well.
  • Check the filters in your heating, ventilation, cooling and air purification systems. Change filters as needed. If you don’t have a HEPA filter, and your system will support it, consider upgrading to a HEPA filter. HEPA stands for high efficiency precipitator air filters. Choose the highest rating your system will allow.
  • Purchase a portable HEPA or non-ozone producing electrostatic precipitating air cleaner.
  • Check for cleaner air spaces in your area on the Oregon Smoke Blog,
  • Learn what to do when the smoke fills the air,

During May, which is Wildfire Awareness Month, federal, state and local emergency and response agencies encourage the public to work together to prevent the risk of wildfire and prepare for wildfire smoke.

Media contacts:

Jonathan Modie, Oregon Health Authority, 971-246-9139
Katherine Benenati, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, 541-686-7997