Saddleridge fire, Riverside County blazes are polluting the air. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself – San Bernardino Sun

October 11, 2019 in San Bernandino


If you’re in the San Fernando Valley or further east in Riverside County Friday, Oct. 11, you saw it. You breathed it: Air quality was terrible, as wildfires in the areas created conditions that were bad for breathing.

You may have been far away from the Saddleridge fire, which ignited in Sylmar Thursday night, Oct. 10, but if you were near the San Fernando Valley, you were affected by the air quality. In Riverside County, three fires — the Sandalwood fire, the Reche fire and the Wolf fire — were producing smoke fanned by Santa Ana winds.

The 818 was blanketed by a thick haze of ash caused by the Saddleridge fire.

It was so bad that the Southern California Air Quality Management District issued an advisory for Friday through Saturday morning.

The advisory warns that if the fires continue to generate smoke through Saturday morning — which is likely since containment was low on the fire in LA — poor air quality will continue to affect LA County’s northwest coastal areas, the San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita Valley and the San Gabriel Mountains.

AQMD offers tips on how to protect yourself. If you smell smoke or see ash due to a wildfire, here are ways to limit your exposure:

  • Remain indoors with windows and doors closed or seek alternate shelter;
  • Avoid vigorous physical activity;
  • Run your air conditioner if you have one. Make sure it has a clean filter and that it is recirculating the indoor air to prevent bringing additional smoke inside;
  • Avoid using a whole-house fan or a swamp cooler with an outside air intake;
  • Avoid using indoor or outdoor wood-burning appliances, including fireplaces and candles.
  • Older adults, young children, pregnant women, and people with heart diseases or lung diseases (such as asthma) may be especially sensitive to health risks from wildfire smoke.

The AQMD recommends not relying on dust masks for protection. Officials said paper “dust masks” can block large particles, such as sawdust, but do not protect your lungs from the small particles or gases in wildfire smoke.

Disposable respirators such as N-95 or P-100 respirators can offer some protection, if they are worn properly and have a tight fit.

And for after the fire:

  • If you have heart or lung problems, don’t cleanup ash or soot.
  • Avoid skin contact with the ash.
  • Don’t use leaf blowers! Use damp cloths and spray lightly with water.
  • Direct ash-filled water to ground areas and away from the runoff system.
  • If you need to clean the ash in your home, use vacuums with HEPA filters or if possible, similar industrials ones with disposable collection filter bags. Sweeping gently with a broom is another option.
  • Take your car to the car wash.
  • Wash off toys.
  • Clean ash off pets.



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