Be Prepared for Forest Fire Smoke in Montana This Season
As we start heating up in Montana and as our woods start drying out we know that fire season is on the horizon. Along with fire season in the west comes smoke. Some years are worse than others so it is best to be prepared. Not only do we get smoke from our local fires in Western Montana, but we also can get smoke from the states to the west of us Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California and don’t forget our neighbors to the north Canada. For some of us it can be a nuisance but for others it can be a much more serious health matter.
According a press release from Sarah Coefield, an Air Quality Specialist from the Missoula County Health Department, there are resources you can use to monitor our state wide air quality and fire activity that is readily available to keep you informed. You can find much more information and tips from the Missoula County Air Quality website.
Wildfire smoke is measured in PM 2.5 (particulate matter 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller). When reporting on air quality that is the measurements that are used from the measuring stations throughout the area. Here are some resources that are recommended by the Missoula County Health Department to keep you informed this fire season.
Montana Today's Air Website This is an hourly updated website for the entire state of Montana that uses the PM 2.5 measuring system.
EPA's Fire and Smoke Map This will show data from not only our state but all around the U.S. using a combination of permanent and temporary monitors as well as Purple Air Sensors. This uses a 1-500 scale of Air Quality Index (AQI).
If you don't have access to the internet, or a cell phone you can always look outside. If you can't see past 5 miles it is consider "Unhealthy Air". If you can't see past 2 miles it is "Very Unhealthy Air". If you can't see past 1 mile it is considered "Hazardous Air". Of course this may not always be that easy with some of our valleys being less than 5 miles wide. If you have questions you can always contact the Missoula County Health Department at (406) 258-3642.
As always be safe in the woods and to quote Smokey Bear "Only YOU can prevent wildfires"