Air Quality Notice

The Northeast Tri County area is expected to have very poor air quality for the next few days due to wildfire smoke from our own regional fires and from a large plume of smoke blanketing the area from Oregon and California fires.  The air quality is expected to be in the unhealthy or even hazardous levels.   

Breathing in wildfire smoke can cause symptoms that are relatively minor—such as eye, nose, and throat irritation—and also more dangerous symptoms, like wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.

If you’ve got red, itchy eyes and no fever right now, the good news is this is not generally a symptom of COVID-19. However, it can be a sign that the wildfire smoke in the air is affecting your body. If you have mild symptoms of smoke irritation, like itchy eyes or an irritated nose or throat, take steps to reduce your exposure to smoke now to prevent a more serious reaction.

When our bodies really react to wildfire smoke, the symptoms can look a lot like COVID-19: coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath. Serious wheezing and shortness of breath are always worth a call to your health care provider—or 911 if you are really struggling to breathe. Your health care provider can help you determine whether you should be tested for COVID-19.

When there is smoke in the air, and especially if you or members of your household are reacting to the smoke already, here are some things you can do to stay safe:

  • Stay indoors, with just members of your household. Remember, it is much easier to spread COVID-19 indoors than it is outdoors. And, smoke can make you more susceptible to respiratory infections like COVID-19. Protect your family from the smoke by staying inside and from COVID-19 by delaying your get-togethers until the air quality is good enough for you all to be comfortably outside.
  • Reduce outdoor physical activity. Save your walks, jogs, and yard work for a day when the air quality is better.
  • Keep indoor air clean.

    • Close your windows and doors to reduce intake of smoke. Open them back up again when the air quality is good to refresh the air!
    • Improve filtration of indoor air in your home and create a clean air room where you spend most of your time. A DIY box fan filter can improve indoor air quality in a single room. Filtering indoor air is an effective way to reduce fine particles from wildfire smoke.
    • Avoid doing anything that may contribute to smoke or dust in the air, like burning candles or incense, smoking inside, frying or broiling, or vacuuming.

  • Keep wearing your cloth face covering to protect yourself and others from COVID-19; unfortunately, they don’t help that much with smoke.


Stay informed about current and forecasted air quality by visiting:

 Washington Air Quality Monitoring Network

Washington Smoke Blog – which includes air quality forecasts

Purple Air Monitoring – an independent air monitoring site