For Immediate Release
August 19, 2020
Lyz Hoffman, Air Pollution Control District Public Information Officer, (805) 961-8819
Jackie Ruiz, Santa Barbara County Public Health Public Information Officer, (805) 896-1057
Air Quality Warning for Santa Barbara County
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. — The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District issued an Air Quality Warning for Santa Barbara County. Smoke from wildfires burning throughout the state, including in Monterey County, is affecting local air quality, and conditions may continue over the next several days. Due to elevated temperatures and stagnant air conditions, we are also experiencing increased ozone levels in regions of the county.
Levels of smoke and particles, and areas impacted, will vary and conditions could change quickly. Be aware of your local air quality conditions by visiting Today’s Air Quality or fire.airnow.gov. If you see or smell smoke in the air, be cautious and use common sense to protect your and your family’s health. Everyone, especially people with heart or lung disease (including asthma), older adults, pregnant women, and children, should limit time spent outdoors and avoid outdoor exercise when high concentrations of smoke and particles are in the air.
If you see or smell smoke:
- Head indoors and remain indoors, as much as possible;
- Avoid strenuous outdoor activity;
- Close all windows and doors that lead outside to prevent bringing additional smoke inside; and
- Take steps to stay cool and keep your indoor air quality clean.
When wildfire smoke is impacting your neighborhood, consider implementing a “clean air room” to keep indoor air quality safe. The best protection against wildfire smoke is to stay indoors as much as possible when smoke is present.
For information on how to create a “clean air room,” click here.
If you have symptoms that may be related to exposure to smoke and soot, contact your health care provider. Symptoms include repeated coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, and nausea or unusual fatigue or lightheadedness.
Face Coverings During Wildfires
Cloth face coverings do not adequately protect you from inhaling wildfire smoke. During the COVID-19 pandemic, cloth face coverings are encouraged to protect others from the liquid droplets that are expelled when we speak, cough, or sneeze from going into the air. Residual spray when you speak produces larger droplets than the PM2.5 particles produced during wildfires.
N-95 masks offer meaningful protection against wildfire smoke, if they are worn properly. However, due to COVID-19, N-95 masks are in extremely short supply and should be reserved for frontline workers. For this reason, to the extent possible, people should stay indoors when wildfire smoke is present as opposed to wearing an N-95 mask or a cloth face covering and going outside.