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Kenny Vigil
505-827-2619 Office
505-470-2290 Mobile

Southwest Wildfire Awareness Week

March 30, 2016 - Air Quality - Awareness

This page on the New Mexico Environmental Public Health Tracking website is an overview of fire, smoke and your health. It provides information such as conditions and alerts, a data query, and several other tools and resources used to assess air quality.Ready or not, fire season has begun. The New Mexico Department of Health and the New Mexico Environment Department are participating in Southwest Wildfire Awareness week (March 27 – April 2, 2016) by encouraging citizens to learn about the smoke, fire, and health resources available.

The Department of Health has prepared the Environmental Public Health Tracking - Fire and Smoke web page and the following information to help you protect your health and plan your actions during emergencies.


Protect Yourself from Wildfire Smoke

Smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases and particles from burning trees and other plant material.  Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases.

Since the southwest United States typically has very low humidity, visibility is an easy way to determine if it is healthy to be outside when smoke is present.  Use the 5-3-1 visibility method to determine if smoke might impact your health. First, decide if the visibility is closer to 5 miles, 3 miles or 1 mile.  How: Try the Visibility Mapping Tool to determine distances from where you are right now.

Regardless of the visibility, if you are feeling as though you are having health problems from smoke, take precautions to avoid breathing in smoke and see your doctor or other health professional as needed. Smoke can cause:

  • Coughing
  • A scratchy throat
  • Irritated sinuses
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches
  • Stinging eyes
  • A runny nose

Learn More

Listen and watch the news for health warnings about smoke. You can also find more information on smoke and health at: https://nmtracking.org/fire. When you are advised to stay indoors, keep indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors closed. If it is extremely hot, you can run an air conditioner but not a swamp cooler. Get more stay cool tips from the Heat Stress - Environmental Public Health Tracking page.

The New Mexico Environment Department operates air quality monitors at multiple locations around the state. The monitors gather information about air quality conditions and help to keep the public informed. Data from the Environment Department air monitors can be found on the Air Monitor Locations Map page.

Links to additional information about fires and smoke can also be found on the Environment Department website on the New Mexico Environment Department Air Quality Bureau page. Because there are not monitors everywhere, your eyes are your best tools to determine if it’s safe to be outside. Even if you smell smoke, the air quality may still be good.


Media Contact

We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact Kenny Vigil at 505-827-2619 (Office) or 505-470-2290 (Mobile) with your questions.


Versión en Español

En un esfuerzo para hacer que nuestros comunicados de prensa sean más accesibles, también tenemos disponibles una versión en español. Por favor presione el enlace de abajo para acceder a la traducción.

Semana de Concienciación Sobre los Incendios Forestales del Suroeste