The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has designated April 30 through May 4 as Air Quality Awareness Week. With above normal temperatures already recorded and continually forecasted for the remainder of spring, coupled with dangerous drought conditions across portions of the country, the risk of wildfires remains a major health and public safety concern.
Wildfires occur throughout many areas across the country, but according to the United States Department of Agriculture, the largest fires and the greatest number of fires actually occur in southern states and in the west. Smoke impacts can threaten public health, cause smoke damage to buildings and materials and disrupt community activities.
As we have learned, smoke from these fires also causes a dangerous reduction in visibility. Did you know that dense plumes of smoke can be carried over hundreds of miles across the state, degrading air quality and highway safety?
Just yesterday, firefighters in Clay County, FL battled a fast-moving woods fire. Their efforts to extinguish the fire were complicated with strong winds, which temporarily endangered an area of homes that could have been affected by smoke or flames. Officials used the CodeRED system to alert residents within the affected area of the fire.
Air Quality Awareness Week is a great opportunity to urge those at greatest risk to check air quality forecasts. Luckily, there’s an app to track the air quality in your area. The CodeRED Mobile Alert App allows subscribers to receive custom air and visibility alerts specific to their current location. Users can select to receive alerts including ashfall, air stagnation and dense smoke alerts. Notifications are delivered to the user’s CodeRED Mobile Alert app just moments after the alert is issued by the National Weather Service.
Those especially susceptible to poor health conditions brought on by smoke and other degraded air quality conditions can rely on the app to alert them of potentially critical notifications that may impact their health. Air quality alerts are available through a free, 30-day trial of CodeRED Weather Warning with the option to continue receiving alerts for $4.99 a year. The app is available for a free download on iTunes for iPhones or Google Play for Android smart phones.
Understanding the importance of air quality forecasts and their direct relation to health impacts will make the difference in a healthier, more informed community. To learn more about Air Quality Awareness Week, click here.