Smoke Advisory for 5-30-2011
Incident: Honey Prairie Complex Wildfire
Outside the Racepond fire area, the potential for high fire danger exists due to dry and abundant fuels that are available to burn. For the next several days, fire behavior is expected to be severe today due to sustained easterly winds between 6 to 10mph with wind gusts approaching the high teens.
Residents and visitors of Waycross can expect increased smoke conditions due to the easterly winds. Okefenokee Swamp Park will be closed for the day due to fire control operations and heavy smoke conditions.
Firefighting resources will be strategically positioned east of Waycross to extinguish hot spots that may be present. Firefighters will be supported by aircraft when necessary, throughout the day, in order to assure public safety as the suppression efforts are implemented.
Residents and visitors should remain alert to any road closures that may be implemented in the area of US Highway 1 and Highway 177 (Okefenokee Swamp Park Road).
Frequently Asked Questions About Smoke:
What is the health threat from wildfire smoke
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. Fortunately, most persons who are exposed to thick smoke will not have health problems. How much and how long you are exposed to the smoke, as well as your age and degree of susceptibility play a role in determining whether or not someone will experience smoke-related problems. If you are experiencing serious medical problems for any reason, seek medical treatment immediately.
How can I tell if the smoke is affecting my family or me
Smoke can cause coughing, scratchy throat, irritated sinuses, shortness of breath, chest
pain, headaches, stinging eyes and runny nose
If you have heart or lung disease, smoke might make your symptoms worse
People who have heart disease might experience chest pain, rapid heartbeat, shortness
of breath and fatigue
Smoke may worsen symptoms for people who have pre-existing respiratory conditions,
such as respiratory allergies, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
(COPD) in the following ways:
o Inability to breathe normally
o Cough with or without mucus
o Chest discomfort
o Wheezing and shortness of breath
o When smoke levels are high enough, even healthy people may experience some of
o these symptoms
How can I protect myself and my family from the harmful effects of smoke
Limit your exposure to the smoke by:
Staying indoors whenever possible
Using air conditioners (air conditioned homes usually have lower air exchange rates than
homes that use open windows for ventilation)
Using mechanical air cleaners
Keeping windows closed while driving in a vehicle
Doing less strenuous physical activity (fast walking rather than jogging)
Minimizing other sources of air pollution (smoking tobacco, using wood burning stoves,
burning candles or incense and vacuuming)
Will I suffocate in my house
No. The most common call for evacuation during a wildfire is due to the direct threat of the fire, not smoke. Leaving the area of thick smoke may be an option for those who are sensitive to smoke. However, it is often difficult to predict the duration, intensity and direction of smoke, making this an unattractive choice to many people.
During severe smoke events, local clean air shelters may be designated to provide residents with a cool place to get out of the smoke, or individuals may choose to visit these locations on their own. These places may include large commercial buildings, educational facilities, shopping malls, movie theaters or any place with effective air conditioning and particle filtration.
Should I wear a mask or N95 respirator
We do not recommend the wearing of any masks or respirators at this time.
Will a wet towel or bandana provide any help
We do not recommend using wet towels or bandanas. Since wet towels or bandanas may not be sealed to the face and their capacity to filter very small particles is unknown, they will likely provide little to no protection. They are also not certified as effective respirators by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
What should I do if I must drive to work
Individuals can reduce the amount of smoke particles in their vehicles by keeping the windows closed. The car's ventilation systems typically remove a portion of the particle coming in from outside. For best results, individuals may want to use the re-circulate air feature found in most cars, which will help keep the particulate levels lower.
Our community has an outdoor game scheduled for this evening. Should we cancel it
All persons in areas affected by the wildfire smoke are being advised to limit outdoor activity and stay indoors whenever possible to minimize exposure to the smoke. Contact your local emergency management officials for more guidance.
Do air-purifying machines help remove smoke particles inside buildings
Some air cleaners may be effective at reducing indoor particle levels, but most are not effective at removing gases and odors and also tend to be expensive. Some devices, known as ozone generators, personal ozone devices, "energized oxygen," "triatomic oxygen," "activated oxygen" and "pure air" generators are sold as air cleaners, but they are not recommended for use in occupied buildings. Ozone does not remove particles from the air and would not be effective during smoke events. Ozone itself is toxic and a regulated outside air pollutant. We advise the public to avoid exposure to ozone indoors by not using air cleaners that produce ozone. For additional information, review the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency document: "Ozone Generators That Are Sold As Air Cleaners" at www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/ozonegen.html. Also, humidifiers or de-humidifiers are not technically air cleaners and will not significantly reduce the amount of particles in the air during a smoke event.
What should I do about closing up my house when it is so hot in there
If you do not have an air conditioner and if it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed,
seek alternative shelter.
If I have respiratory problems and can't reach my doctor, where should I go
If you have a medical emergency, you should call 911 or go the hospital emergency room