September 12, 2020
Dear Gonzaga Students, Staff and Faculty:
Over the past 24 hours, the air quality in Spokane has been increasingly impacted by a smoke plume that originates out of the wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington. As of this afternoon, the Air Quality Index for Spokane has reached “Hazardous” levels, and unfortunately we expect this situation to persist over at least the next day or so. We want to urge you to take steps to protect your health during this time of poor air quality.
When smoke and dust levels are high, even healthy people may experience coughing, a scratchy throat, irritated sinuses, shortness of breath, chest pain, headaches, stinging eyes, and a runny nose.
For individuals who are sensitive to poor air quality, such as people with asthma, the poor air quality can have a much stronger impact. Spokane Regional Health District strongly recommends that people who are sensitive to air quality limit time outdoors, follow their breathing management plans, keep medications (such as inhalers) close by, and contact their healthcare provider if needed.
All individuals in the Spokane area should use the following tips to minimize the impact of this poor air quality:
- Pay attention to the air quality reports. The Air Quality Index (AQI) uses color-coded categories to report when air quality is good, moderate or unhealthy. You can monitor AQI online at https://spokanecleanair.org/current-air-quality.
- Modify your activities. It is best to stay indoors; if you must go out, keep the amount of time you are exposed to the smoke to a minimum. Wear cloth face coverings!
- When walking across campus, cut through buildings when possible or take a break indoors – especially if you start to experience shortness of breath or lightheadedness.
- Keep windows and doors closed as much as possible.
- If you have an air conditioner, running it may help, but make sure that the fresh air intake vent is closed and the filter is clean. If not, turn the system off.
- If you can, avoid vacuuming, dry dusting, or sweeping. These cleaning methods increase particle levels and stir up particles in a home and should be avoided during smoky air conditions.
We will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates as they become available. Finally, please continue to keep all those who have been affected by these fires, as well as our firefighters, police, and first responders, in your thoughts and prayers as they continue working to get these fires contained and respond to the many emergent needs they are responding to.
Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.