During wildfire events, it is important to limit your exposure to smoke - especially if you may be more vulnerable to its health impacts than the general population. The SLO County Air Pollution Control District is responsible for closely monitoring local air quality during wildfire events. The APCD has nine permanent air monitoring stations located throughout the county measuring air quality and collecting data 24-hours per day, 7-days per week. In addition, during wildfires and large controlled burns, the APCD sets up temporary air monitoring sites to closely monitor those areas that may be most impacted. Provided below is some helpful information on how to protect yourself and your family from the health impacts of smoke and particulate matter.
Those most vulnerable to the effects of wildfire smoke:
If you have heart or lung disease, such as congestive heart failure, angina, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema or asthma, you may experience health effects earlier and at lower smoke levels than healthy people.
Older adults are more likely to be affected by smoke.
Children are also more susceptible to smoke for several reasons: their respiratory systems are still developing; they breathe more air (and air pollution) per pound of body weight than adults; and they are more likely to be active outdoors.
How to tell if smoke is affecting you:
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.
When smoke levels are high enough, even healthy people may experience some of these symptoms.
The public is advised to consult your doctor if you are experiencing health problems. For those affected, some relief may be gained by staying indoors, limiting strenuous activities and setting any heating/ventilation/air conditioning systems to recirculation.