Drought has once again become no stranger to the City of
Gallup and the surrounding area bringing with it the risk of wildland fires. With
smoke already visible from the Bluewater and Diener Canyon Wildfires this has become a testimony to that reality.
Should smoke levels become high, even healthy people may have symptoms or health problems. Smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and other plant materials. Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases. The best thing to do is to limit your exposure to smoke. Depending on your situation, a combination of the strategies below may work best and give you the most protection from wildfire smoke. The more you do to limit your exposure to wildfire smoke, the more you’ll reduce your chances of having health effects.
- Avoid areas of highest concentrations of smoke, if possible
- Keep indoor air as clean as possible by closing windows and doors to minimize smoke in your home
- If possible, use a high efficiency (HEPA) air filter
- Avoid strenuous outdoor activity in smoky conditions
- Reduce the amount of time spent outdoors
- People with asthma or other respiratory problems should carefully follow their breathing management plans and stay in contact with their healthcare providers
- Paper or dust masks do not offer reliable respiratory protection from smoke: an N95 mask
(properly fitted, available at building supply and hardware stores) offers some protection from the particulates in smoke, but may increase breathing effort.
- Drink plenty of water
- Consider leaving a very smoky area if you have health conditions that put you at higher risk for illness from wildfire smoke
For additional information on protecting your health during fires and on smokey days please visit the New Mexico Environmental Public Health Tracking at https://nmtracking.org/environment/air/FireAndSmoke.html