The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issues a daily air quality advisory which includes a smoke outlook for the Front Range, including Larimer County. View the Daily Air Quality Advisories.
Smoke from wildfires contains a mixture of fine particulates and gases that are produced when wood burns. Those fine particles can threaten your health and comfort with symptoms including burning eyes, runny nose, breathing difficulties and illnesses such as bronchitis. Fine particles can also aggravate chronic heart or lung diseases such as asthma.
Air quality monitors are used to measure the level of fine particulates in the air. Larimer County maintains a permanent monitoring station on the CSU campus as part of a statewide network. While readings from this monitor may be helpful during a fire, a single location cannot give the whole story during a wildfire event. This is because conditions in the area impacted by smoke can shift rapidly with weather changes or fire progression. Fortunately, we can use our senses to help us determine when smoke from a forest fire has reached levels that are unhealthy.
Generally speaking, the more that smoke limits visibility in the area, the worse the health conditions. Check the smoke forecast and advisories for the day and use common sense to determine your actionsâ€”if it is smoky outside, it is probably not a good time for outdoor activities or for children to play outdoors.
People whose health and comfort are at risk of being affected by smoke are advised to limit their outdoor exercise or stay indoors when heavy smoke is occurring. Those at highest risk include the elderly, young children, pregnant women, people with pre-existing respiratory or circulatory conditions, and individuals with smoke allergies. However, even healthy individuals may be affected by smoke in the air.
Conditions can change rapidly during the fire season. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment advises that if smoke is thick or becomes thick in your neighborhood consider remaining indoors. This is especially true for those with heart disease, respiratory illnesses, the very young, and the elderly. Consider limiting outdoor activity when moderate to heavy smoke is present. Consider relocating temporarily if smoke is present indoors and is making you ill.