ENTERPRISE — The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Lane Regional Air Protection Agency and the Southwest Washington Clean Air Agency extended an air quality advisory Monday, Sept. 14, for all regions of Oregon and southwest Washington due to smoke from fires in Oregon, Washington and California.

The air-quality index measured Sept. 14 at the U.S. Forest Service office in Joseph was 189 for particulate matter, which ranks as "unhealthy".

The DEQ expects the air-quality advisory to last at least through Thursday, Sept. 17. The DEQ and partner agencies will continue to monitor smoke in Oregon and southwest Washington.

Smoke levels are fluctuating between unhealthy and hazardous for Oregon and southwest Washington. When smoke levels are hazardous everyone needs to take steps to protect themselves.

Protect your health when smoke levels are high:

Avoid outdoor activities and stay inside if possible. Keep windows and doors closed.

Be aware of smoke in your area.

Use high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. These can be portable filters or can be installed in indoor heating, ventilation, cooling and air purification systems. You can also create your own air purifying filter by following these easy DIY air filter instructions.

Check with your local health department or this 211 list to see if they have community clean air shelters set up where people can get temporary relief from the smoke.

If you have heart or lung disease or asthma, follow your health care provider’s advice.

Consider leaving the area if smoke levels are hazardous and you have heart disease, asthma or other respiratory conditions. Otherwise, please wait to be directed to evacuate. Pay attention to evacuation notices. If you choose to leave the area, remember to take face coverings and hand sanitizer with you to help protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Cloth, dust and surgical masks don’t protect from the harmful particles in smoke. N95 respirators that are tested to ensure proper fit and that are worn correctly may provide protection. Otherwise, they might just provide a false sense of security. They are not available in children’s sizes and are not recommended for strenuous activities. N95 respirators are in limited supply due to COVID-19. Additional information on wildfire smoke and COVID-19 can be found on the Centers for Disease Control webpage.

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