TWIN FALLS — Smoke from wildfires occurring in Idaho and neighboring states is drifting across all of Idaho.
For more vulnerable and sensitive populations, it can affect their daily routine and their health. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is spreading the word on preventative measures those people can take to try and stay safe.
“We looked back at our records a couple of years ago and last year, and we’re about three weeks ahead of when smoke started creeping last year," said Mark Boyle, the Smoke Management Program supervisor for Idaho.
While smoke is anticipated to be around throughout the summer, it's tough to forecast how serious it will be for the remaining summer months. But due to severe drought conditions and the intense heat, the chance for fires is high and the smoke can pose plenty of risks to people.
“Headaches, watery eyes, scratchy throats," said Boyle. "Long-term exposure, really high concentrations could even create some cardiac problems.”
People who may be more sensitive to smoke are encouraged to remain indoors where the air is clean, especially when the outdoor air quality is extremely poor.
“Once smoke gets inside your house it can build in the concentrations, and maybe sometimes what’s higher than what’s outside," said Boyle. "If you want to protect yourself, creating a do-it-yourself fan that helps clean the air in one of your rooms, or they make nice room HEPA filter systems that can help do that.”
The air quality for South Central Idaho is currently at a moderate risk level, but the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality expects the smoke to remain in the forecast.
“Coming tomorrow I think we’ll probably start building some smoke in the area down there," said Boyle. "You’re likely to see that continue through the weekend and maybe into the middle part of next week.”
The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality also wants to encourage that anyone currently living in an area where a fire is taking place to be prepared in the event of an evacuation.