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Wildfires Spread Through Northern California’s Santa Cruz Mountains Protect yourself from the health effects of smoke

Release Date: 05/22/2008
Contact Information: Mary Simms, 415-947-4270,

(5/22/2008 -- SAN FRANCISCO) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s AIRNow database provides current air quality information for the areas where fires have spread through more than 1,000 acres of the Santa Cruz Mountains. EPA’s scientific air quality information in real time is available on Google Earth. This information tool accesses the AIRNow database hourly so that the Air Quality Index (AQI) displays the most current air quality conditions. Public health officials, media outlets and the general public can view timely air quality information, by city, on Google Earth.

During wildfires, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has the following recommendations on how to protect yourself from the effects of smoke.

Pay attention to local air quality reports and stay alert to any news coverage or health warnings related to smoke. Air quality reports are based on data from local air quality monitors, recommending health precautions. Recent information is available at AirNOW at

Use common sense. If it looks smoky outside, avoid physical outside activities and don’t let your children play outdoors.

If you are advised to stay indoors, keep indoor air as clean as possible. Keep your windows and doors closed - unless it's extremely hot outside.

Run your air conditioner, if you have one. Keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent bringing additional smoke inside.

If you don't have an air conditioner, staying inside with the windows closed may be dangerous in extremely hot weather. In these cases, seek alternative shelter.

When indoors, avoid smoking and using: wood fireplaces, gas logs, gas stoves, candles, and vacuum cleaners.

If you have asthma or other lung disease, make sure you follow your doctor's directions about taking your medicines and following your asthma management plan. Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen.

If you have heart or lung disease, if you are an older adult, or if you have children, talk with your doctor about whether and when you should leave the area.

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