DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH NEWS
Residents with COVID-19 or underlying conditions should consider taking steps to minimize exposure
The New Mexico Department of Health and New Mexico Environment Department announce an air quality alert for Sandoval, Bernalillo, Rio Arriba, Los Alamos and Santa Fe counties due to smoke from the Medio Fire, located 2 miles east/southeast of Nambe Reservoir and 5 miles north/northwest of the Santa Fe Ski Basin.
The fire spanning 2,300 acres and growing is only 5% contained. Communities impacted by smoke include Santa Fe, Los Alamos, Española, Bernalillo, the Albuquerque Metro area, Nambe, Pojoaque, and Tesuque Pueblos and surrounding communities. Smoke will persist across the area through mid-morning Monday and as such, the advisory will be in effect from 9:00 pm Sunday through 11:00 am Monday. There will be a Medio Fire virtual community meeting tonight at https://facebook.com/santafeNF/. Residents can email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since these impacts are expected to occur overnight it is recommended that all residents, especially those with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), interstitial lung disease (ILD) or lung cancer, heart disease, adults over age 65, young children, and pregnant women take the following precautions to limit exposure to smoke:
- Close windows before bedtime
- Turn off evaporative (swamp) coolers until the smoke lifts and visibility improves to about 5 miles.
- Do not vacuum anywhere in the house, unless using a HEPA-filter equipped vacuum.
- You can create your own “clean room” using an interior room, with as few windows and doors as possible, such as a bedroom. You can build your own air purifier which can reduce about 90% of the particles in the indoor air for about $25. See how, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kH5APw_SLUU.
- Smoke and COVID-19 don’t mix. Smoke from wildfires may cause people to have more severe reactions if they are infected with COVID-19. The best way to protect against the potentially harmful effects of wildfire smoke and to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home and create a clean indoor air space. If you have severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing or chest pain, call 911 or get to an Emergency Department. If you have mild symptoms, call your healthcare provider. Visit https://cv.nmhealth.org/ for more information.
Your eyes are your best tools to determine if it is safe to be outside. Use the 5-3-1 Method available at https://nmtracking.org/environment/air/FireAndSmoke.html. If visibility is:
- Under 5 miles, the air quality is unhealthy for young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness. Outdoor activity should be minimized.
- Around 3 miles, young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness should avoid all outdoor activities.
- Around 1 mile, the air quality is unhealthy for everyone. People should remain indoors and avoid all outdoor activities including running errands. Unless an evacuation order has been issued, stay inside your home, indoor workplace, or in a safe shelter.
To learn more about smoke and COVID-19 visit http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/smoke-faq.html. The Department of Health offers tips on keeping indoor environment clean here: https://nmtracking.org/environment/air/IndoorQuality.html and https://nmtracking.org/environment/air/FireAndSmoke.html.