SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District issued an Air Quality Watch to be in effect until conditions improve. An unprecedented number of large wildfires throughout California are producing significant smoke that is being held in the upper atmosphere and is reaching ground level throughout the state. This is a dynamic situation, and local air quality conditions can deteriorate quickly. 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. If you are an essential worker and must work outside during wildfire conditions, the use of a properly fitted N-95 mask provides protection.
If you have symptoms that may be related to exposure to smoke or ash, contact your health care provider. Symptoms include repeated coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, and nausea or unusual fatigue or lightheadedness.
When it’s smoky outside, keep your windows and doors closed tight. Use an air-filtering device [High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter] 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.