Smoke from wildfires will continue to plague King County with unhealthy air quality. While the forecast has smoke staying through the week, air quality may change frequently throughout the day, and may be different from location to location. Check airnow.gov for updates. Residents are encouraged to take precautions as levels will stay around “unhealthy for sensitive groups” to “unhealthy” for everyone. Please check back for more updates.
Protect your health when air is smoky
Check the air quality forecast. Air quality conditions may change quickly. Go to Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s website at pscleanair.org or follow them on Twitter (@pscleanair) for the current smoke level report for King County. Stay indoors when possible. Limit your physical activity outdoors (including running, biking, physical labor, and sports) when:
- the smoke level is “moderate” or worse if you have a health condition (like asthma, heart disease, diabetes, or a cold)
- the smoke level is “unhealthy for sensitive groups” or worse if you are pregnant, over age 65, a child or an infant
- the smoke level is “unhealthy for everyone.”
Keep indoor air clean. Close windows and doors. Don’t smoke, use candles, or vacuum. Use an air cleaner with a HEPA filter if possible. Use fans or an air conditioner (AC) when it’s hot, if possible. Set your AC to recirculate, rather than bringing in fresh air. If you aren’t able to leave and it’s too hot, it’s better to open the windows for a short time to cool the indoor space than to overheat. If you do use AC, be sure to check and clean or change the filter regularly. If your health conditions get worse around smoke, contact your health care provider. Call 9-1-1 if you or someone else has serious symptoms, like trouble breathing.
Check on others. Check on elderly or at-risk neighbors. Make sure they have what they need. Offer them a place with cleaner indoor air if available. Public Health – Seattle & King County has additional information and tips about dealing with wildfire smoke.
Tips for pets
Animals also face challenges during the wildfire smoke season. Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC) provides information for people to help their pets in emergencies, including summer heat and wildfires. As with humans, try to limit your pet’s outdoor activity when weather conditions are at their worst. Always make sure pets have plenty of cool water and shade available, and never leave a pet in a hot car. Check heat safety tips for pets for information. If you need to evacuate due to smoke or wildfire, have a plan to take your pet with you.
For more information visit, www.kingcounty.gov/wildfiresmoke
Winds have brought smoke from east of the Cascades into parts of King County. The National Weather Service and Puget Sound Clean Air Agency expect the smoke to stick around through the middle of the week.
Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is monitoring the air quality of the region. You can view air quality around your home here.
Residents of King County are encouraged to sign-up for ALERT King County to get timely information on emergency situations. For information specific to air quality, sign-up for Puget Sound Clean Air Agency alerts.
Did you know there are more than 1,400 long term care facilities in King County? These include skilled nursing facilities (nursing homes), adult family homes, and assisted living and supported living facilities that provide care for older adults and people with disabilities who need help with activities of daily living.
“People who live in long term care facilities are at high risk for COVID-19. Many are over age 60 or have underlying health conditions. They are often sharing a bedroom or bathroom and it is challenging to follow social distancing protocols,” said Ingrid Ulrey, COVID-19- Chief, LTCF Response, and Policy Director, Public Health – Seattle & King County.
A skilled nursing facility in Kirkland was “ground zero” for the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak. Along with hospitals, fire departments and other first responders, long term care facilities were hit hard when COVID-19 began in our region. Due to the massive demand and lack of supply, they were unable to get needed personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, and gowns, and other supplies like disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer.
King County activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on Feb. 28 and sprang into action. One of its key roles in the pandemic is to support Public Health – Seattle & King County by coordinating resource management. The EOC is taking aim at supply scarcity on behalf of jurisdictions and agencies around the region. The EOC compiles requests, submits orders to the state, and receives and re-distributes critical supplies. The team also maximizes the county’s buying power to fill in the gaps.
“We’re buying hundreds of thousands of masks, gloves, gowns, face shields, goggles, and other eye protection. We’re getting hundreds of gallons of hand sanitizer,” said Derrick Hiebert, Emergency Management Program Coordinator at King County Office of Emergency Management.
A team of employees from Emergency Management, Public Health, and other county departments, as well as volunteers from Team Rubicon, an international disaster response nonprofit, became a supply-ordering machine. The Facilities Management Division of the Department of Executive Services also plays an important role in the receiving and temporary storage of goods until they can be shipped out.
“The goal is to be able to meet everyone’s needs,” said Sophia Lopez, Emergency Management Program Manager at King County Office of Emergency Management (OEM).
Initially supplies had to be prioritized due to limited quantities. The state identified a hierarchy of “tiers” based on those treating or transporting COVID-19 positive patients, as well as the type of organization.
With state direction, the team at the EOC first focused on meeting needs by “Tier 1” organizations, such as long-term care facilities, emergency medical services (EMS) and hospitals. Once those needs were met, which happened just recently, the team was able to move to Tier 2, which includes group settings such as isolation facilities, homeless shelters, and behavioral health residential facilities. The goal is to soon be able to meet the needs in Tier 3 which includes group living facilities without known COVID patients, home hospice, home care without known COVID patients, opioid treatment programs, funeral homes, childcare centers and quarantine facilities.
“We’re also moving toward setting folks up to order certain items for themselves as supply opens back up,” Lopez added.
“I’m very proud of the work we’re doing in the EOC, especially the Logistics Section,” said Brendan McCluskey, OEM director. “We’re making a difference and helping save lives.”
Learn more in this short video.
The King County Regional Donations Connector is now available online to link up individuals, businesses, non-profits, and others who have resources with those who need them during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Donations Connector will help make sure services, supplies, and funding reach health care providers, first responders, and social service entities working on the front lines.
The website at kingcounty.gov/emergency/donate serves three major functions:
- A system that allows donations and offers of assistance to be used in the response effort.
- An online “marketplace” where offering organizations can be matched to those in need.
- An easily searchable list of ways the public can get help.
Donating businesses, agencies, and individuals are invited to share what they have to contribute (such as funding, medical supplies, masks, counseling, or other goods and services) and link up with organizations involved in the COVID-19 pandemic response.
Who is the Donations Connector for?
- Private and public entities with items or services to donate
- Community and faith-based organizations
- The general public
What types of donations are requested?
- Food (both perishable and non-perishable)
- Medical supplies
- Sanitary supplies
- Facility space
- Services such as counseling (legal, mental health, etc.), labor, janitorial, catering, and more
People who want to volunteer their time should contact local volunteer groups or register through the United Way of King County at volunteer.uwkc.org/volunteer-response-covid-19. Also, the Connector is intended for donations of goods in bulk quantities – smaller donations should go through existing community donation channels. Once donor and recipient are connected, they will need to independently arrange for pickup and delivery as needed.
King County is taking proactive steps to protect the health of our community. Stay safe and informed by following guidance provided by Public Health – Seattle & King County.