Resources to help you prepare now for wildfire season

With wildfire season approaching, it's crucial for our Western community to be prepared for smoky skies. This week, we're emphasizing the importance of getting #SmokeReady in partnership with the State of Washington, Department of Ecology (WADOE). This involves identifying personal health risks, understanding how to safeguard indoor air quality, and knowing where to access the latest information on wildfire smoke location and intensity. Let's work together to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone on campus – students, staff, and faculty alike.

Here are some resources provided by WADOE to focus on this week:

Monday, June 10: Learn about smoke

  • Wildfire smoke is a mixture of harmful gases (including carbon monoxide) and particle pollution (PM).
  • PM2.5 (particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers across) is very dangerous to human health.
    • PM2.5 can enter your lungs and bloodstream, causing and worsening numerous health problems.

Tuesday, June 11: Stay informed about smoke

Wednesday, June 12: Smoke and your health

  • Symptoms of smoke exposure include:
    • Eye, nose, and throat irritation
    • Coughing, sore throat, and phlegm
    • Headaches
    • Shortness of breath and asthma attacks
    • Heart attacks
  • People in a sensitive group are more likely to be affected, including:
    • People with breathing or heart conditions
    • Babies and children under 18
    • People over 65
    • Pregnant women
    • People who smoke or have diabetes
  • People in these groups should take extra care to avoid exposure to wildfire smoke when possible.

Thursday, June 13: Minimize exposure to smoke

  • When air quality is poor, try to stay inside and:
    • Shut windows and doors.
    • Delay vacuuming, dusting, and lighting candles.
    • Run fans to stay cool in the room you're in.
    • Use HEPA air filters to purify indoor air.
    • Build your own clean air fan.
  • If you must go outside:
    • Reduce physical activity.
    • Wear a fitted N95 or KN95 mask. (Other kinds or masks don’t protect from PM2.5.)
    • Set your car’s air conditioner to recirculate.
    • Drink plenty of water.

Friday, June 14: Prevent smoke

  • The increasingly hot and dry conditions caused by climate change mean more – and more intense – wildfires.
  • That said, over 80% of wildland fires are started by humans.
    • Be sure to:
      • Fully extinguish campfires.
      • Obey burn bans.
      • Choose alternatives to burning, such as composting, bagging, or chipping yard waste.
      • Fully extinguish cigarettes in an ashtray.
      • Park hot vehicles on asphalt, not dry grass.
      • Check your trailer chains to avoid sparks from dragging.


Brought to you by Western’s Emergency Management & Business Continuity program.