Smoke continues to affect air quality in SLO, Santa Barbara, Ven - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Smoke continues to affect air quality in SLO, Santa Barbara, Ventura counties

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Smoke from the Thomas Fire fills the sky above Park Lane in Montecito. (KSBY photo) Smoke from the Thomas Fire fills the sky above Park Lane in Montecito. (KSBY photo)

The Air Pollution Control Districts in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties are now working together to assess the effects of smoke from the Thomas Fire on air quality throughout the region.

In San Luis Obispo County, officials say current air quality ranges from good to moderate and smoke may be present in the area until the fire is put out. The SLO County APCD has issued a voluntary "Don't Light Tonight" advisory through Dec. 18 encouraging residents to refrain from burning wood or using wood stoves or fireplaces unless they are a primary source of heat. Click here to check the air quality in San Luis Obispo County. 

In Santa Barbara County, officials say monitoring stations are expected to continue to record unhealthy air with high levels of fine particles. Larger particles and smoke will make air quality conditions appear worse and lead to poor visibility in some areas of the county. An Air Quality Warning will remain in effect until conditions improve. Click here to check the air quality in Santa Barbara County. 

In Ventura County, officials say smoke impacts are widespread and air quality should be considered unhealthy in areas directly impacted by smoke. Currently, smoke has made its way inland along the coastal plains. The Ojai Valley is also currently experiencing very unhealthy air quality, even reaching hazardous levels at times. Click here to check the air quality in Ventura County.

If you smell smoke or see ash falling, Air District officials say you should take precautions and use common sense to reduce your exposure to smoke: 

  • Avoid strenuous outdoor activity 
  • Remain indoors as much as possible 
  • Close all windows and doors that lead outside to prevent bringing additional smoke inside
  • Set any heating/air conditioning/ventilation systems to recirculate 

These precautions are especially important for children, older adults, and people with existing respiratory illness and heart conditions. If you experience a cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, exhaustion, light-headedness, or chest pain, stop any outdoor activity immediately and seek medical attention. 
Officials also recommend you avoid ash clean-up on cars and other materials until conditions improve. If you must clean up ash, the following is recommended: 

  • Use a damp cloth and spray areas lightly with water, take your vehicle to the car wash; wash off toys that have been outside in the ash; clean ash off pets
  • Due to the corrosive nature of ash, avoid any skin contact with the ash (wear gloves, long-sleeved shirts)
  • Do not use leaf blowers
  • If you have existing heart or lung conditions, avoid doing ash clean-up yourself or anything else that stirs the particles back up into the air.
  • Do not allow children to play in the ash

N-95 faces masks, which provide some protection from the smoke, are being distributed at the following locations on Thursday, Dec. 14:

  • Goleta Valley Community Center, 5679 Hollister Ave, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Goleta City Hall, 130 Cremona Drive, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Santa Barbara Public Library, 40 East Anapamu Street, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Carpinteria Albertsons Shopping Center, 1018 Casitas Pass Road, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Buellton CVS (ask store staff), 218 East Hwy 246, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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