Air ‘unhealthy’ due to wildfires; Stage 2 burn ban in effect

Keep windows closed, avoid outside activity

  • Tuesday, September 8, 2020 4:21pm
  • News

Due to rising fire danger and stretched resources, the Kitsap County fire marshal is expanding the current burn ban to prohibit all outdoor fires, effective immediately and until further notice.

Also, air quality conditions in most of Puget Sound are unhealthy for everyone, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency announced in an alert today.

Air pollution is increasing due to wildfire smoke and may cause health problems. Irregular winds may cause air quality in some areas to be especially unhealthy for sensitive groups through Wednesday and possibly beyond.

The burn ban move is prompted by several factors. Hot and dry weather has made conditions ripe for ignition and fast fire spread, and forecasts predict more of the same. Multiple local brush fires broke out over the weekend, underscoring the danger.

Large fires in progress across the state have depleted all but local firefighting resources.

“Escaped outdoor fires are a leading cause of wildland fires,” Kitsap County Fire Marshal David Lynam said. “Given these circumstances, the best way to prevent a big incident in our county right now is by preventing it from starting in the first place.”

Under Stage II no open burning is allowed. All outdoor burning permits remain suspended, recreational fires are prohibited, and only propane or natural gas-fueled cooking fires are allowed.

For details, call the fire marshal’s office at 360-337-5777 or your local fire district.

Meanwhile, wildfire smoke can cause and worsen many health problems such as: Asthma, chest pain, coughing, fast heartbeat, headaches, irritated sinuses, stinging eyes and trouble breathing.

Both COVID-19 and wildfire smoke affect the respiratory and cardiovascular systems and increase health risks. Everyone should take precautions, especially infants, children, people over 65 and those that are pregnant, have heart or lung diseases (such as asthma or COPD), respiratory infections, diabetes, stroke survivors and those suffering from COVID.

To avoid problems, stay at home when possible; limit activity outdoors and close windows in your home. If you have an air conditioner, use it in recirculation mode.

Heat can be dangerous, too. If it becomes unbearably hot, it’s better to open the windows for a short period of time.

As for masks, those with the label “N95” or “N100” are most effective for air pollution and COVID. Cloth masks offer limited protection from air pollution.

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