‘Smoke Ready Week’ prepares community for wildfire season

SPOKANE, Wash. — A big concern heading into wildfire season is the risk that comes for thousands living in rural areas. A risk we all face—wildfire smoke.

A second ‘Smoke Ready Week’ is in full swing, hosted by Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency. We can’t predict how the wildfire season will play out, but something we can control is how we prepare.

Lisa Woodard is the Director of Communication & Outreach at Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency. With the second annual Smoke Ready week, they have one focus.

“Our goal is to get people the tools and resources so they can prepare,” explained Woodard.

First and foremost, our community needs to know how to get air quality information constantly, because conditions change rapidly and for many, their health depends upon it. The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency website will always be kept up to date.

Woodard explains, “These particles are so small they bypass our body’s defense systems and they get in through our bloodstream, and in through our lungs where they can scar and damage lung tissue.” The health impacts are real, and those most at risk are adults over 65, pregnant women, those with pre-existing health conditions, and children.

“Children breathe 50% more air than adults & their lungs are still developing,” said Woodard.

By this point, most of us know to stay indoors on smoky days, but something you might not have considered is that what you’re doing inside matters, too.

“Another thing about keeping your indoor air as clean as possible is not adding to the pollution in your home: candles, dusting, vacuuming, frying food on the stove, all of these things add to pollutants in the home,” explained Woodard.

Right now, our drought makes this upcoming season even more concerning. Chief Brian Schaeffer with Spokane Fire said, “Our partners at [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] have been telling us, it’s lining up to be a very dangerous situation for eastern Washington — but especially Spokane.”

No matter how many times fire agencies tell us to be careful about our own personal fires, they see the same thing every year.

“It was only a small fire, and 80 acres later, or 50 acres later, or a building or a garage later and the consequences are completely predictable,” said Schaeffer. “If it’s predictable, it’s preventable.”

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