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The original item was published from 10/21/2022 12:09:51 PM to 10/25/2022 12:00:05 AM.

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Health & Community Services

Posted on: October 19, 2022

[ARCHIVED] Protect Yourself from Wildfire Smoke

smoke exposure

SAN JUAN COUNTY, WA. October 19, 2022 – Smoke from nearby wildfires has settled over the islands – resulting in unhealthy air quality. San Juan County’s Department of Health and Human Services urges residents to take precautions to protect yourself and family members.

“We have three air quality monitors one on each of the three largest islands (Orcas, San Juan, and Lopez),” said SJC Health Officer Dr. Frank James. “The Purple Air system collects individual monitoring data and can be very useful to see what air quality is like in real time locally.” You can also monitor air quality in our area using Washington Smoke Information Blog or Washington’s Air Monitoring Network map.

Smoke contains very small particles and gases. These particles can get into your eyes and lungs where they can cause health problems. Inhaling smoke is not good for anyone, however, people most likely to have health problems from breathing smoke include people with heart and lung diseases, people with respiratory infections, people with diabetes, stroke survivors, infants, children, pregnant people, and people over 65 years of age.

Here are steps to reduce smoke exposure:

  • Limit time outside and avoid strenuous outdoor activity;
  • Close windows and doors unless it is too hot to maintain safe temperatures indoors;
  • Don’t add to indoor air pollution (e.g., cigarette smoking, burning candles);
  • Filter indoor air (HVAC system, HEPA portable air cleaner, DIY box fan filter);
  • Set air conditioner to circulate;
  • Seek cleaner air elsewhere if needed and possible;
  • If you must go outside, wear a properly fitted particle respirator, like a N95 mask.

It is important to monitor symptoms of smoke exposure. Symptoms include burning eyes, coughing, throat and nose irritation, headaches, fatigue, wheezing and shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, and chest pain. If your symptoms become serious seek medical attention immediately.  

Relevant URLs:

About San Juan County’s Department of Health and Community Services    

San Juan County’s Department of Health and Community Services is responsible for community and environmental health, mental health and substance abuse programs, senior services, affordable housing projects, and more. The department has staff and offices on Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan Islands. For more information about San Juan County’s Department of Health and Community Services, visit


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