Air Quality Alert for Santa Barbara County
Start of the Maria Fire on Thursday at the top of South Mountain, south of Santa Paula (Photo: Ventura County Fire Department)
Source: Air Pollution Control District
Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District issued an Air Quality Alert through the weekend, or until conditions improve. The Maria Fire burning in Ventura County is producing smoke that may affect Santa Barbara County.
Levels of smoke and particles, and areas impacted, will vary. If you see or smell smoke in the air, be cautious and use common sense to protect your and your family’s health. Everyone — especially people with heart or lung conditions (including asthma), older adults, pregnant women, and children — should limit time spent outdoors and avoid outdoor exercise when high concentrations of smoke and particles are in the air.
Symptoms of smoke exposure include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chest tightness or pain, nausea, and unusual fatigue or lightheadedness. When smoke is present, it is important for everyone to avoid outdoor activities – making indoor air quality that much more important. Here are some tips to keep your indoor air quality clean:
- Keep windows and doors closed when smoke is present.
- Create a “clean air room” in your home. Choose a shared space or a bedroom to run a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) purifier. These purifiers are available online or at home improvement stores and start at approximately $75.
- HEPA purifiers can reduce indoor particulate levels by up to 90 percent.
- A less expensive, but similarly effective, option involves attaching a MERV-rated filter to a box fan, which costs $30-$40.
- Use N-95 masks correctly. These masks can reduce smoke exposure outdoors by up to 95 percent but only if they fit properly.
- Scarves, bandanas, and surgical masks are not effective and should not be used.
- Masks must fit snugly around the nose and chin. For that reason, they are not suitable for children or people with facial hair.
- People with heart and lung conditions should talk to their doctor before using an N-95 mask, as the masks can restrict airflow.
- N-95 masks should not be used to extend time outdoors beyond what is necessary.
For current conditions and forecasts, visit www.OurAir.org/todays-air-