California Wildfire Smoke May Affect Cache Valley

Smoking Is Bad For Your Health

Unless you’ve been living in a hole for the past few years, you’ve probably heard about California’s problems with wildfires. Some of the images we’re seeing of these fires can only be described as an accurate recreation of hell. They’re in California, though, right? There’s nothing to worry about here in Cache Valley, right? Wrong: there’s the smoke.

Smoke from these fires travels on the air currents, carrying it far inland. Furthermore, California’s not the only place that has wildfire problems this year. Our next door neighbor state of Nevada also had a few, as did several other states near us. The smoke from these fires can have a number of serious effects. According to ABC news, when the fires burn vegetation and buildings, they give off toxins. They can irritate your eyes, skin, throat, and lungs. The effects can cause chest pains, stinging eyes, headaches, sore throats, and sinus infections.

Don’t Forget The Inversion

With all the smoke from these wildfires spreading through the atmosphere, we’re already having a bad time. According to KSL, we’ve been experience adverse affects from the smoke since August. It’s about to get worse, though. The Cache Valley inversion is coming up. If you don’t already know, the inversion is when the cold winter air sinks into the valley, dragging down all the pollution with it. This year, the pollution is going to include smoke from the wildfires.

Utah has been taking air quality seriously. Thanks to our efforts, the inversion last year wasn’t too bad, with only two days of significantly bad air quality during the inversion. To manage this, we’ve been doing many different things to reduce our pollution output. Unfortunately, it’s not just our pollution we must contend with this year.

What Are We Doing About It?

According to Utah’s health board, there are a few things we can do to reduce our output of pollution. If you aren’t already aware, here’s a quick rundown from their report.

  • Reduce the number of trips, or plan trips more efficiently to reduce the time your car needs to warm up.
  • Avoid idling. Ten seconds of idling burns more fuel than turning your engine off and restarting it.
  • Use carpools and public transportation to reduce the number of cars on the road. This will also save you money on fuel for your own car.
  • Drive your newest car on poor air qualities days, as newer vehicles tend to run the cleanest. When buying a new car, make fuel efficiency a priority.
  • Stay on top of your car’s upkeep.
  • Avoid accelerating quickly, as this emits more pollutants.

While this won’t affect the pollution from the wildfires, it’s still important to follow these guidelines to help reduce our own pollution.

What Can I Do?

To protect your own health, the American Lung Association has a few things they suggest. Among these, they suggest staying up to date with air quality forecasts in addition to Utah’s health department. Avoid activity outside on bad air days. Do not burn wood or trash, as these produce high volumes of pollution. Do not smoke indoors.

This is all good advice. You may be worried that it’s not enough with the wildfires, however. While we’ve yet to see what affect it will have during the inversion, there’s good cause for concern. It may also be a good idea to take some extra steps to keep the bad air out of your home.

Air Duct Cleaning and Air Filters

Does your house have a filter on its ventilation system? How long has it last been since you cleaned it? Air filters are meant to last for fair amount of time, but it does need to be replaced every few years. If it’s been a while since you’ve done it, now is a good time to get it done. While you’re at it, you might consider having your air ducts cleaned. Easy Breezy Ducts tells us that their customers report noticing much cleaner air in their homes after air duct cleaning. This combination can help improve the quality of air in your home while also keeping bad air out.

If you live in an older house that doesn’t have a good air filter on its ventilation system, you probably should get one installed. You want to get it done before the inversion happens, as the process of renovating your home for it (if needed) will briefly open your house up to more pollution.

We Must All Do Our Part

While we can’t control the pollution coming from the wildfires in other states, there are many things we can do to reduce our own pollution. We’ve mentioned several in this article already, and there are others. Anything that reduces energy consumption will also reduce emissions. Take whatever steps you can. And don’t forget to make use of Cache Valley’s busses when you can. The CVTD is a robust public transportation system that covers all the major places in the valley. With a bit of planning, we can avoid a lot of unnecessary driving, which not only reduces emissions, but also saves money on fuel. It’s a win-win.

Any steps you take to help will do a lot of good this year and we need every bit of help we can get. Let’s take our responsibility for Utah’s clean air seriously!