Some parts of Marion County may be at risk for wildfire. However, the most likely health risks come from wildfire smoke hanging in the area during dry, hot weather during summer wildfire season. Smoke can irritate the eyes and respiratory system, but can be particularly harmful for those with heart or lung conditions such as COPD or asthma. Children and older adults are also more likely to be affected.
Check out the following guide made by the Pacific Northwest Wildfire Coordinating Group for information about wildfire behavior, how to protect your home, and other tips: Living with Fire, a Guide for the Homeowner.
Evacuation During a Wildfire
Wildfires can be unpredictable. If there is a need to evacuate during a wildfire, three levels of evacuation are used:
• Level 1:
Get Ready. Pack important documents, valuables, and medications. Prepare your emergency go kit. Be sure to sign up for emergency alerts.
• Level 2:
Get Set. Be prepared to evacuate and monitor information through local emergency management, TV, and radio.
• Level 3:
Go! Evacuate as soon as recommended by officials. Do not wait to be ordered to leave. Ensure that your emergency go kit is in your vehicle. Pay attention to information provided by officials regarding evacuation routes and where to go for resources.Smoke Related Events
There are many steps you can take to protect yourself from wildfire smoke. If you are at risk or have a chronic disease, you can protect yourself by:
1. Making sure that you have more than five days of medication available.
2. If you have asthma, have a written asthma plan.
3. Check in with your healthcare provider about precautions during smoke events.
4. If you use an air filter, choose a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter or an electro-static precipitator (ESP) that matches the room size as directed by the manufacturer.
5. Always call your healthcare provider if your condition gets worse when you are exposed to smoke.
For those groups not considered at risk, limiting your exposure to smoke is the key to protecting yourself. You can take the following steps during smoke events:
1. Pay attention to local air quality reports and public health messaging.
2. Keep indoor air as clean as possible by keeping doors and windows closed, keeping air conditioner filters clean, and using a HEPA or ESP filter.
3. Run the AC on recirculation when driving to avoid bringing in smoky air.
4. Avoid adding to indoor air pollution. Those who dislike vacuuming have a great reason to put it off, because vacuums disturb particles already inside the home.
5. Remember that non-fit tested respirators and masks commonly found at hardware stores are not effective at filtering particles from smoke.
The Oregon Smoke Blog
is a good resource for local air quality reports and information about current wildfires. The Oregon Health Authority has additional fact sheets: