People should not exercise outdoors in areas that are affected by the LA fires, according to county officials. Smoke from the fires is causing unhealthy air quality for all individuals in the impacted areas.
People can participate in indoor sports or other strenuous activity in areas with visible smoke, soot, or ash, provided the indoor location has air conditioning that does not draw air from the outside and it has closed windows and doors to protect the cleanliness of indoor air. If not, it is recommended that all individuals follow these guidelines as if they were outside.
According to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), smoke from the Station Fire near La Cañada has caused hazardous air quality in the San Gabriel Mountains and the West San Gabriel Valley. Areas of direct smoke impact include Altadena, La Cañada, Flintridge, La Crescenta, Tujunga, and Sunland. The Los Angeles County Health Officer, Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, urges all individuals in these areas, or areas where there is visible smoke or the odor of smoke, to avoid unnecessary outdoor and indoor physical exertion, such as exercise. Additional areas that may be impacted by smoke include: the Santa Clarita Valley, San Fernando Valley, Central Los Angeles County, and East San Gabriel Valley.
The following recommendations will help people protect themselves from harmful effects of bad air quality:
- If you see or smell smoke, or see a lot of particles and ash in the air, avoid unnecessary outdoor activity to limit your exposure to harmful air. This is especially important for those with heart or lung disease (including asthma), the elderly and children.
- If outdoor air is bad, try to keep indoor air as clean as possible by keeping windows and doors closed. Air conditioners that re-circulate air within the home can help filter out harmful particles.
- Avoid using air conditioning units that only draw in air from the outside or that do not have a re-circulating option. Residents should check the filters on their air conditioners and replace them regularly. Indoor air filtration devices with HEPA filters can further reduce the level of particles that circulate indoors.
- If it is too hot during the day to keep the doors or windows closed and there is no air conditioning unit that re-circulates indoor air, consider going to an air conditioned public place, such as a library or shopping center, to stay cool and protected from harmful air.
- Do not use fireplaces (either wood burning or gas), candles, and vacuums. Use damp cloths to clean dusty indoor surfaces. Do not smoke.
- If you have symptoms of lung or heart disease that may be related to smoke exposure, including severe coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, nausea or unusual fatigue or lightheadedness, people should contact a doctor immediately or go to an urgent care center.
- When smoke is heavy for a prolonged period of time, fine particles can build up indoors even though people may not be able to see them. Wearing a mask may prevent exposures to large particles. However, most masks do not prevent exposure to fine particles and toxic gases, which may be more dangerous to health.
"It is difficult to tell where ash or soot from a wildfire will go, or how winds will affect the level of dust particles in the air, so we ask all individuals to be aware of their immediate environment and how it might affect their health," said Dr. Fielding.