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6 Tips to Protect Yourself and Our Community From Wildfires

Rain might be in the forecast, but wildfire season is year-round in Colorado. Follow these tips to stay safe and healthy.   

It’s Wildfire Awareness Week at the City of Boulder, and we’re bringing you content to help you understand, prepare for and prevent wildfires. 

1. Know the risks of wildfire smoke

Wildfire smoke is made up of gases and fine particles from burning materials such as trees and buildings. These particles can make their way into your lungs and cause health problems.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the air pollutants wildfire smoke can irritate the lungs, cause inflammation, alter immune function, and increase susceptibility to respiratory infections – including COVID-19.

2. Be careful when heading outside 

Getting outside is important for physical and mental health, especially during these times. However, be cautious when heading outdoors during smoky conditions. If you can see or smell smoke, you’re likely breathing it. This can impact your health, especially during physical activity.

According to the EPA , healthy adults may not be at major risk from limited exposure, however, everyone should avoid breathing smoke if they can. The elderly, children and people with conditions such as asthma may be more at risk. Learn more from Boulder County Public Health .

3. Face coverings don’t protect you from smoke 

Though cloth face coverings help slow the spread of the coronavirus, they do not protect you against harmful wildfire smoke. The small particles in the smoke are not captured by the these coverings. You should protect yourself from smoke as you normally would, which may include staying inside during smoky conditions.

If you have previously tested positive for COVID-19, be aware that, according to the CDC, some scientific reports warn that exposure to air pollutants (like those in wildfire smoke) can worsen the effects of COVID-19.

4. Stay informed on current conditions 

Sign up for emergency alerts in Boulder County. Check trusted sources such as AirNow.gov for current air quality conditions and a map of smoke and wildfires in our area . These resources can help you determine your level of safety. If you’re unsure about your level of risk, talk to your healthcare provider.

5. Recreate Responsibly

We’re all in this together. Nearly 85% of wildfires are human-caused. Let’s do our best to protect our community by remembering to  always recreate responsibly  when visiting public spaces. Do not engage in activities that have the potential to start fires, including smoking and lighting fireworks or campfires. If you see a fire or behavior that could start a fire, call 9-1-1.

6. Be prepared 

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. It’s important to be prepared in the case of a wildfire close to home. The city recommends organizing your preparedness actions into three steps: Ready, Set and Go , in accordance with the national wildfire preparedness program of the same name.

These steps include actions like preparing a family disaster plan, getting a home risk assessment , and keeping supplies ready.  Email [email protected] for non-emergency questions.