Rim Fire Smoke Affects Local Air, Schools, Events and More

Photo courtesy KOLO viewer Jojo Cann
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RENO, NV - Sierra Front confirms the smoke hitting the Reno area is not coming from the American Fire in the Tahoe National Forest; instead, it's coming from the Rim Fire west of Yosemite National Park in California.

Thick smoke and even ash have been the norm for much of several days in the Tahoe Basin, Douglas County, Carson City and into Reno, plus surrounding rural areas.

Here is the health alert from the Washoe County Health District:

AQMD is notifying the public of the potential for poor air quality conditions through Tuesday, August 27, 2013 due to smoke from the Rim Fire and American Fire in California. Widespread haze and smoky conditions will continue to affect Southern Washoe County especially valley locations including Reno and Sparks.

The smoke is highly dependent upon the wind direction and fire activity which can change rapidly. Expect smoke to become more concentrated in lower elevations during the evenings and early mornings with partial clearing in the afternoons as atmospheric mixing or favorable winds lifts the smoke out of the breathing zone.

Air quality is expected to remain in either the Unhealthy range, Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups range or the Moderate range as wind and weather conditions change.

Fine particulate matter known as PM2.5 is comprised of microscopic particles that can travel deep into our lungs and is the pollutant of concern found in wildfire smoke. While everybody may experience varying degrees of symptoms, persons in the sensitive groups category include children, the elderly, and anyone with respiratory and heart conditions are of greatest risk at experiencing more aggravated symptoms and serious complications. Smoke can irritate the eyes and airways, causing coughing, a scratchy throat, irritated sinuses, headaches, stinging eyes or a runny nose.

If you have heart or lung disease, smoke might make your symptoms worse. People with heart disease might experience chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, or fatigue. People with lung disease may not be able to breathe as deeply or as vigorously as usual, and they may experience symptoms such as coughing, phlegm, chest discomfort, wheezing and shortness of breath.

In general, if you smell smoke and feel it’s affecting you, then take precautions such as:
• Staying indoors with the windows and doors closed and air conditioner on.
• Limiting prolonged or heavy exertion and physical activity while outdoors.
• Drinking plenty of fluids.
Persons experiencing questionable or severe symptoms should contact their doctor if they have any questions.


Here is Friday's warning from Carson City and Douglas County:

The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) air quality
monitors in Gardnerville and Carson City indicate extremely elevated amounts of particulate matter in the air due to wildfires in California. The levels of particulate matter equate to “Very Unhealthy” on the Air Quality Index (AQI) level of health concern. The AQI is an index for reporting daily air quality and what associated health effects might
be an issue.

In conditions that lead to a “Very Unhealthy” designation, all residents may begin to experience adverse health effects. Members of sensitive groups (young children, the elderly, people with asthma or other respiratory issues) may experience more serious affects. People should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion outside and consult with their health care provider if needed.

Based on National Weather Service forecasts, NDEP expects very unhealthy air quality conditions to remain in Carson City and Douglas County throughout the weekend.

Due to unhealthy air quality levels in northern Nevada, Carson Tahoe Health encourages the public to be
aware of the following:

• Air quality is so bad that even the healthiest of individuals
could be in danger if they spend too much time outdoors

• Shelter in place, stay indoors.

• Keep hydrated to progress a cough and help prevent smoky air from settling in the lungs

• Use air conditioning if possible, to help filter air throughout a house

• Keep all doors and windows shut in both home and vehicles, if in a vehicle make sure the air conditioner is set to reticulate the air

• Humidifiers will help the air quality in a home or building

• Masks are available for purchase at hardware stores and can really help filter the air and aid in comfort.

Seek emergency care if:

• You are having trouble breathing or can’t say more than four words without having to stop and take a breath

• You experience excessive sweating

• Your lips are turning blue

• You are confused or lose consciousness