Smoke-filled air from wildfires burning across California on Friday prompted local public health and air quality officials to issue an air quality warning “until conditions improve” in Santa Barbara County.
The alert will remain in effect until Monday morning, according to Lyz Hoffman, the Air Pollution Control District‘s public information officer.
An “unprecedented” number of large wildfires in California are producing significant smoke that is being held in the upper atmosphere and is reaching ground level throughout the state, Hoffman said.
Several fires were burning in California on Friday, including blazes in Monterey and Los Angeles counties, according to CalFire.
“This is a dynamic situation, and local air quality conditions can deteriorate quickly,” the county’s warning said. “Stay alert to local conditions and be ready to take action.
“Levels of smoke and particles, and areas impacted, will vary. When 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 disease (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.”
The agency said the use of a properly fitted N-95 mask provides protection from wildfire conditions.
“If you have symptoms that may be related to exposure to smoke or ash, contact your health care provider,” the APCD stated. “Symptoms include repeated coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, and nausea or unusual fatigue or lightheadedness.”
When smoke hovers in the air, the APCD said, keep windows and doors closed tight.
The agency also advises using an air-filtering device (high-efficiency particulate air filter) indoors to remove ash, soot and dust, and keep the device in one room that can serve as a “clean air room.”
“Keep windows and doors closed unless it is extremely hot. If you have an air conditioner, run it with the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean. If you have a whole-house fan, turn it off unless it is extremely hot. If ash is deposited in your area, avoid cleaning the ash until the event has ended and avoid stirring up the ash with leaf blowers or other equipment,” the APCD said.