WA Dept. of Ecology kicks off #SmokeReady week to prepare for upcoming wildfire season

TRI-CITIES, Wash. — As temperatures start to rise and we enter the summer months, the Washington State Department of Ecology wants to remind the community to prepare for wildfire season.

From June 13th – 16th is the department’s #SmokeReady week that’s aimed at providing residents with support and guidance for the inevitable smoky conditions.

“We don’t really say it’s if there’s going to be wildfire smoke, it’s when there’s going to be wildfire smoke, and your best line of defense is to be prepared,” said Stephanie May, the communications manager for the department. “It’s extremely important to be prepared before we see wildfire smoke, because oftentimes the items that you need to prepare, sell out or are unavailable.”

May said that people should protect themselves by keeping windows shut and setting air conditioners to recirculate.

“If it’s smoky outside, stay indoors and protect your indoor air quality,” May said. “Don’t light candles in your house. Don’t fry foods. Things like that will impair your indoor air quality.”

When it comes to pets, May said it’s important to be in contact with your veterinarian while monitoring their symptoms.

“Animals can be affected by air quality issues as well. So bringing them indoors is a really good way to help protect them,” May said. “Sometimes dogs can get a little cough.”

May said the microscopic particles in the smoke are what can irritate lungs and “it’s not good for anyone.”

“So you might not realize the first day when you’re exposed to wildfire smoke. But maybe the second day you start getting a cough, you might start getting runny eyes, watery eyes, runny nose, kind of like you have a cold,” May said. “Right now is your best time to really gather your resources and make sure that you’re ready.”

Officials said while it is still too early to tell how severe the wildfire season will be, the added moisture from the current wet season could cause more growth that would then dry out, thus causing additional wildfires as the weather gets warmer.

For additional tips and resources from the Department of Ecology, click here.

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