From the mayor’s desk: by Meadow Martell

I wasn’t sure what to write about this week. Then just when I was feeling overconfident that we would get through the summer season without a wildfire or much smoke, the Rum Creek Fire expanded, and the wind conspired to slam the Illinois Valley. My heart aches for the land, the Rogue River, and the people who have had to evacuate. It was just a little over a year ago that I spent a week rafting this beautiful, pristine area.
For several days now, we have had high smoke alerts into the unhealthy and very unhealthy categories. DEQ expects the poor air quality advisory to last until at least Wednesday, Aug. 31. You can download a mobile app available for smart phones. Search for OregonAir in your app store. You can also get Oregon smoke information at https://www.oregonsmoke.org/.
Smoke can irritate the eyes and lungs and worsen some medical conditions. People most at risk include infants and young children, people with heart or lung disease, older adults and pregnant people.
There are things you can do to protect yourself and your family. These things might seem obvious, but they are worth stating:
• Stay inside if possible. Keep windows and doors closed. If it’s too hot, run air conditioning on recirculate or consider moving to a cooler location.
• Avoid strenuous outdoor activity.
• Use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in indoor ventilation systems or portable air purifiers.
• Avoid places with the highest levels.
• When air quality improves to moderate or healthy (yellow or green on the Air Quality Index), open windows and doors to air out homes and businesses.
• Dust and surgical masks don’t protect from the harmful particles in smoke. Select a NIOSH-approved respirator with a N, R, or P alongside the number 95, 99 or 100.
Smoke hurts animals too. Keep your pets indoors as much as possible, and keep your windows shut. Let dogs and cats outside only for brief bathroom breaks if air quality alerts are in effect. Avoid intense outdoor exercise during periods of poor air quality. Wait until the smoke has settle to exercise your pets. I know this isn’t easy. I have a very active border collie. We play a lot of fetch it games inside with soft toys.
In the future, I hope the Illinois Valley can have another cooling center besides the library that is open to us during its business hours.