Stay indoors to avoid smoke

The Montezuma County Health Department has issued a wildfire smoke health advisory for the Montezuma and Mancos valleys.

The Weber Fire is producing thick smoke that sometimes rises into the atmosphere to be dispersed by high-altitude wind currents, sometimes is blown in unpredictable directions by lower-altitude winds, and sometimes particularly at night can settle heavily into local valleys. Smoke and ash were heavy as far north as Trout Lake on Saturday.

All residents of the area should remain indoors when the smoke is dense. Limit outdoor activity when moderate to heavy smoke is present.

Those with heart disease or respiratory illnesses, as well as the elderly and the very young, are especially susceptible to breathing difficulties related to wildfire smoke and may want to consider relocating temporarily if they are experiencing breathing difficulties.

Symptoms related to wildfire smoke may include eye, nose and throat irritation runny eyes or nose, sore throat and cough.

Smoke may bring the onset of symptoms related to pre-existing respiratory ailments as asthma or emphysema. Trouble breathing or tightness of the chest may be symptoms of a health emergency.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, a few simple actions can help minimize exposure to wildfire smoke.

Close windows and doors and stay indoors. However, do not close up your home tightly if it makes it dangerously warm inside.

Only if they are filtered, run the air conditioning, the fan feature on your home heating system (with the heat turned off) or your evaporative cooler. Keep the outdoor air intake closed and be sure the filter is clean. Filtered air typically has less smoke than the air outdoors. Running these appliances if they are not filtered can make indoor smoke worse.

If you have any HEPA room air filtration units, use them.

Seek out locations where air is filtered, which may include public businesses or buildings with air conditioning.

To prepare for nighttime smoke, consider airing out your home during the early or middle of the afternoon when smoke tends to be more diluted. Use your best judgment. If smoke is thick during the day, follow the tips above.

The CDPHE advises that commercially available dust masks may seem like a good idea, but they do virtually nothing to filter out the particles and gasses in smoke.