CIBOLA COUNTY, N.M. – Smoke has filled the skies over Cibola County for a few weeks, on-and-off again from various fires. This past Monday the National Weather Service put out a warning that air quality in Cibola may be unsafe for people with health issues as smoke from fires throughout the West fill the sky this week. The warning was specific to Monday night through 11 a.m. on Tuesday morning. The effects of the smoke were forecast to be minimal since it was expected to affect this area overnight. NWS officials said that the smoke would worst at the beginning of the week, but that people should have a plan of action to protect themselves which is always a good idea.
Health officials warn that when the smoke does get bad, citizens should use the 5-3-1 method to protect themselves and their families. This means:
“Under 5 miles, the air quality is unhealthy for young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness. Outdoor activity should be minimized.
“Around 3 miles, young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness should avoid all outdoor activities.
“Around 1 mile, the air quality is unhealthy for everyone. People should remain indoors and avoid all outdoor activities including running errands. Unless an evacuation has been issued, stay inside your home, in-door workplace, or in a safe shelter.”
In situations with a lot of smoke, the NWS says that the most at-risk people are those with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), interstitial lung disease (ILD) or lung cancer, heart disease, adults over age 65, young children, and pregnant women.
Due to the pandemic the New Mexico Department of Health warns that citizens who need to leave due to smoke or a fire must do so carefully. They have published guidance at https://nmtracking.org/environment/air/IndoorQuality.html and https://cv.nmhealth.org
Many citizens use swamp coolers or evaporated air coolers for their homes; NMDOH warns against using those types of cooling devices during a smokey day because the equipment can pull the smoke inside of a home. To stay cool, NMDOH published this guidance, https://nmtracking.org/healt h/heatstress/Heat.html.