Wildfire Smoke Recommendations

The Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District, Mono County Public Health Department, Inyo County Health and Human Services Department and Alpine County Public Health Department have developed the following recommendations to encourage the public to keep track of current air quality conditions and take steps to protect yourself and your family from wildfire smoke.

Protect Yourself from Wildfire Smoke

If possible, limit your exposure to smoke.  Below are some tips and recommendations to protect your health:

  • Avoid Smoky Periods. Smoke often changes over the course of a day. Track conditions and plan your activities to avoid the worst periods of air quality.
  • Stay Indoors. During elevated levels of smoke do not go outdoors.
  • Reduce Activity. Reducing physical activity lowers the amount of inhaled pollutants and reduces health risks during smoke events.
  • Smoke Exposure. Children, pregnant women, older adults, and those with chronic illnesses are more vulnerable to smoke exposure. If you or someone in your family have symptoms related to smoke exposure such as difficulty breathing, prolonged coughing or chest pain contact your health care provider.
  • Keep Indoor Air Clean. Close all windows and doors. Swamp coolers do not offer filtration and should not be used during smoky conditions. Air conditioners may be run with the fresh air intake closed. If you are unable to keep your indoor air clean or it is too hot, consider relocating to an area with cleaner air. Some indoor air filter systems may improve indoor air quality. More information is provide in the additional resources below.
  • Do Not Rely on Masks for Protection. Dust masks or bandanas do not offer protection. An N95 respirator, properly fitted and worn, will offer some protection but an N95 that is loose or that does not fit properly will not decrease exposure.  In addition, a properly fitted N95 can be difficult to breathe through and may not be suitable for use over an extended time or for persons with health conditions.

Smoke levels may change rapidly throughout the day due to wind and weather conditions. You can monitor changes in smoke in your area and make plans accordingly. Current Air Quality Conditions, District Health Advisories, and the U.S. Forest Service's 72-hour smoke prediction model can help you track wildfire smoke conditions. Not every community has an air quality monitor but you may use your own observations, local visibility and the Visibility chart below to help determine conditions. Current fires affecting air quality can be found on the District Smoke Page.

Recommendations for Outdoor Activity During Smoky Conditions

This guide is intended to help you make decisions on outdoor activities when it's smoky outside. The Visibility Chart contains information to help you determine if it is advisable to be outdoors. Facing away from the sun, if you can, focus on a local ridge top, building, or landmark which is approximately 3 to 6 miles away and determine how far you can see. This can help you to visually assess the quality of the air. If you are concerned about poor outdoor air quality, consider waiting for better conditions.

For More Information Contact:

Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (760) 872-8211
Dr. Richard Johnson, Alpine County Health Officer (530) 694-2235
Dr. James Richardson, Inyo County Health Officer (760) 873-7868
Bryan Wheeler, Mono County Health Officer (760) 924-1828