In case you were wondering where all the smoke is coming from, there are two fires that are currently active and burning contributing to the smoke smoke we are seeing in the Gallup area. The first fire is in Arizona near Flagstaff which is estimated to have burned 8600 acres and the second is south near Quemado, NM. The fire in Quemado, Elk Fire was started by a lighting strike and has burned approximately 1051 Acres and is currently 48% contained.
Should smoke levels become high, even healthy people may have symptoms or health problems. Smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and other plant materials. Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases. The best thing to do is to limit your exposure to smoke. Depending on your situation, a combination of the strategies below may work best and give you the most protection from wildfire smoke. The more you do to limit your exposure to wildfire smoke, the more you’ll reduce your chances of having health effects.
- Avoid areas of highest concentrations of smoke, if possible
- Keep indoor air as clean as possible by closing windows and doors to minimize smoke in your home
- If possible, use a high efficiency (HEPA) air filter
- Avoid strenuous outdoor activity in smoky conditions
- Reduce the amount of time spent outdoors
- People with asthma or other respiratory problems should carefully follow their breathing management plans and stay in contact with their healthcare providers
- Paper or dust masks do not offer reliable respiratory protection from smoke: an N95 mask
(properly fitted, available at building supply and hardware stores) offers some protection from the particulates in smoke, but may increase breathing effort.
- Drink plenty of water
- Consider leaving a very smoky area if you have health conditions that put you at higher risk for illness from wildfire smoke
For additional information on protecting your health during fires and on smoky days please visit the New Mexico Environmental Public Health Tracking at https://nmtracking.org/environment/air/FireAndSmoke.html