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Air quality conditions continue to worsen as Lake Fire persists

Santa Barbara County officials have upgraded the Air Quality Watch to an Alert in Los Olivos.
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Posted at 5:47 PM, Jul 08, 2024

Los Olivos is seeing unhealthy air quality levels as the Lake Fire continues to burn, topping 20,000 acres Monday.

Santa Barbara County Public Health Department officials and the county's air pollution control district have placed an Air Quality Watch Alert on the region.

They recommend that people in Los Olivos do the following:

  • "Head indoors and remain indoors, as much as possible — the best protection against wildfire smoke is to stay indoors as much as possible;
  • Avoid outdoor activity;
  • Close all windows and doors that lead outside to prevent bringing additional smoke inside;
  • Create a 'clean air room' to keep indoor air quality safe. Turn on your High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) purifier if possible. For information on different ways to create a “clean air room,” click here.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep respiratory membranes moist; and,
  • If you are an essential worker and must work outside during wildfire smoke conditions, the use of a properly fitted N-95 mask provides protection."

These suggestions apply to anyone in an area where the Air Quality Index is 151 or greater.
Officials warn that similar air quality conditions could quickly spread beyond Los Olivos to a larger portion of the county.

They encourage all Santa Barbara County residents to stay informed on local conditions by regularly checking the EPA Fire and Smoke Map and the Air Pollution Control District's website.

They also say that anyone who is experiencing symptoms that may be related to smoke exposure, like repeated coughing or shortness of breath, should contact their doctor.

People with heart or lung conditions, older adults, pregnant women, and children are advised to use extra caution.

Ash is also falling to the ground throughout Santa Barbara County.

In a press release, county officials suggest that residents and landscapers avoid using leaf blowers to clean up because they break down large ash particles into smaller, more harmful ones that can get into the lungs and cause serious health effects.

Instead of using a leaf blower, they recommend sweeping gently with a broom and then mopping. They recommend using HEPA vacuums as well.