Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park
 

Wildfire Smoke Health Advisories and Smoke Forecasts

photo from Health
High Park fire from Red Feather!

Wildfire Health Advisory

There are currently no wildfire health advisories issued for Larimer County.  However, conditions can change rapidly during any fire season.  The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment advises:

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.

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 State-wide 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 actions—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.  


Smoke Forecast

No significant smoke from forest or other wildland fires is expected in our area today.  This page will be updated during times when high levels of smoke are expected.  Thick smoke can occur anytime fires are burning in our vicinity, or when large multi-day fires are burning across the region.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issues a daily air quality advisory and smoke outlook for the Front Range, including Larimer County. It is available at: http://www.colorado.gov/airquality/addendum.aspx


Resources

Colorado Air Quality Summary Page. This page includes links to daily air quality advisories and a wildfire smoke outlook for the Front Range and the entire State: http://www.colorado.gov/airquality/colorado_summary.aspx

 
Colorado Wildfire Air Quality Information. A page with detailed information about the potential health impacts of wildfire smoke: http://www.colorado.gov/airquality/wildfire.aspx
 
Forest Fire Smoke. An EPA website about smoke and health affects:  http://www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=smoke.index
 
Health threat from wildfire smoke. A CDC website about smoke from wildfires: http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/wildfires/facts.asp
 
Larimer County posts additional information about current local emergencies, including wildfires, on its webpage at: http://larimer.org/emergency/

 


Background Image: Rocky Mountain National Park by Sue Burke. All rights reserved.