Widespread smoke from several in-state and out-of-state fires is impacting large sections of western Colorado.
In addition, eastern Rio Blanco county has heavy smoke from the Cabin Lake Fire. Periods of moderate to heavy smoke can be expected. As of 9 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 16, the air quality index category for Eastern Rio Blanco County is Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.
Readings are taken from an air quality monitor approximately 5 miles southeast of Meeker. It would be reasonable to expect air quality is much worse the closer you live to the fire.
Air Quality Categories:
- Air quality will be worse at night and in the mornings and in low lying areas.
- Air quality typically improves as the day progresses.
- Wind, fire behavior, and other climate events can impact air quality as well.
When air quality is in the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups, people with heart and lung disease (including asthma), older adults and children are considered sensitive and therefore at greater risk. The elderly and children should reduce prolonged outdoor exposure and exertion.
If minor or moderate respiratory issues arise, please call your healthcare provider for consultation and directives. If severe respiratory issues arise, please call 911. Watch for symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. People with asthma should follow their asthma action plans and keep quick-relief medicine handy. If outdoor work and exertion are unavoidable, take frequent breaks indoors to allow breathing of cleaner air. If possible, schedule outdoor work in the afternoon when air quality is better. A limited quantity of respiratory masks are available at Rio Blanco County Public Health office in Meeker. The office is located upstairs in the Town Hall at 345 Market St.
In addition, Pioneers Medical Center has opened their front lobby for people to spend time in an environment of filtered air. Morning outdoor sports practices should be kept at a minimum and athletes with asthma should be monitored closely.
Indoor practice is preferred if practicing before 2 p.m.
Coaches and volunteers helping with afternoon and evening sports practices should have heightened awareness of respiratory
symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, complaints of burning throat and shortness of breath.
Clean air breaks are encouraged. Even if afternoon air quality is better, accumulated adverse effects from breathing smoke over several days can manifest.
For more information, contact the Rio Blanco Department of Public Health and Environment at 878-9520.