Dane County Air Quality at Unhealthy Levels Due to Wildfire Smoke
Public Health Madison & Dane County encourages everyone to take steps to protect yourself from wildfire smoke during the Air Quality Advisory in effect until Thursday afternoon. Levels as of this posting are fluctuating near “Very Unhealthy.” Visit AirNow.gov to see the current level where you are.
“The best way to avoid wildfire smoke is to stay indoors, close windows and doors, and run the air conditioner on recirculate, if possible,” said Janel Heinrich, Director of Public Health Madison & Dane County. “If you don't have an air conditioner, staying inside with the windows closed is dangerous in hot weather. If you are hot, go to a cool, public space, like a library or mall.”
At the ‘Very Unhealthy’ air quality level, it is recommended to avoid physical activity outdoors and reschedule or move activity indoors.
“These recommendations are especially important to groups that are more sensitive to outdoor air quality, including people with heart or lung disease, older adults, children, those who are pregnant, and those who work outdoors,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “Keep an eye on your health and take action if you have symptoms.”
Breathing in smoke can affect you right away, causing coughing, trouble breathing, stinging eyes, scratchy throat, and other symptoms. If symptoms don’t subside after you move indoors, consider talking to your doctor.
“I encourage everybody to take the air quality advisory seriously, and stay indoors as much as possible until the health impacts have decreased,” said Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway. “We are taking precautions by limiting outdoor work and activities, and we will make masks available at our libraries for the public.”
Not everyone has the ability to stay indoors, but the same N95 or KN95 masks we use during high levels of COVID activity can help protect you from the poor air quality we are currently experiencing. If you can’t keep your outdoor activity light and short, consider wearing a mask.
Public Health is working with City of Madison and Dane County agencies to distribute masks throughout the area. We're encouraging local shelters to welcome more people during this air quality advisory, making masks available at men's and women's shelters, and working with the Dane County Department of Human Services to distribute them directly. Public Health also has free masks available at our East Washington and South Park Street offices.