GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — With the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone has become familiar with face masks, and while they are great for stopping the spread of the virus, health experts say they aren’t as helpful when dealing with the effects of the Western Colorado wildfires. Therefore, experts say if you smell smoke, you are breathing in smoke.
Jeff Kuhr from Mesa County Public Health says the cloth face coverings and surgical masks that we have been using to stop the spread of COVID-19 will prevent larger particles floating around in the air, like ashes and soot, from entering our airways, but the masks will not stop us from inhaling the smoke from the wildfires. Therefore, Kuhr urges you to avoid doing activities outside as much as possible and to stay in a room with an air conditioning system.
And yet, many homes in the Grand Valley use Swamp Coolers to stay comfortable in the summer months, which poses another problem. Tom Orr, an epidemiologist, says, “If you are in an area where the air quality is bad due to wildfires, that is not a good time to pull the smoke in with a swamp cooler.” Instead, Orr suggests you can use a fan to keep cool.
In addition, Orr offers other household advice to protect your respiratory system. He says you shouldn’t smoke, and that burning candles can cause unhealthy air levels.
Mesa County Public Health also says there are precautions to take while driving, such as keeping the windows closed and having the AC circulate the air within the car instead of it bringing air in from the outside.