Oakland, CA — Our hearts go out to the victims and families of the Camp Fire in Butte County, which continues to burn, and the impacts are being felt across the region as air quality has worsened, fluctuating between “unhealthy” and “very unhealthy.” As of 10 am, the Air Quality Index is in the “very unhealthy” range.
Impacts are most severe to our most vulnerable neighbors: infants and children, the elderly, pregnant women, those with respiratory or cardiac issues, and our unsheltered.
Oakland’s libraries, senior centers, and other City facilities remain open as options for the public to come indoors.
The City’s Head Start centers and recreation centers/programs are closed today due to very unhealthy air quality and recommendations from public health experts.
Important Health Advisories
The Alameda County Public Health Department’s Health Advisory recommends that while air quality is in the “unhealthy” range:
· The best option for everyone, especially children, the elderly, and persons with chronic lung or heart disease, is to stay indoors with windows and doors closed and avoid prolonged outdoor activities.
· Some specific masks (N95s or higher), if properly fitted, may be helpful for those who must be outdoors for prolonged periods. N95 masks require a tight seal to work, thus are not protective for men with beards or young children. Persons with chronic lung or heart disease or other medical conditions, should check with their healthcare provider before using an N95 mask, as they can make breathing more difficult.
· Bandanas (wet or dry), paper or surgical masks, or tissues held over the mouth and nose will not protect from wildfire smoke or small particulate matter in the air.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) has extended its Air Quality Advisory due to the Camp Fire through Tuesday, November 20th. The BAAQMD’s most recent advisory, issued on November 15, 2018, states:
“The Bay Area is continuing to experience heavy smoke from the Camp Fire in Butte County. Air quality continues to be unhealthy through much of the region and these conditions are expected to persist through Tuesday at least. While weather conditions will vary somewhat in the coming days, air quality is expected to remain unhealthy because there is so much smoke trapped at the surface and surrounding the region.
The public should limit outdoor activity as much as possible during this alert, and continue to listen to health information from their local authorities. If air quality is unhealthy in your area, the first and best option is to stay indoors with windows and doors closed. Masks should not be used instead of remaining indoors, but if worn they should be a new, clean N95 mask or greater, securely strapped for a tight seal. Masks are not suitable for men with beards or young children.”
Support for our Unsheltered Community
Alameda County’s Health Care for the Homeless and the City of Oakland have been engaging our outreach teams to support our unsheltered residents:
· Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) has distributed 5,500 N95 masks to encampment sites mainly through a network of City and community partners such as Mask Oakland
· HCH has distributed all the masks they had available; a second emergency shipment of N95 masks is expected to arrive on Saturday
· Year-round shelter beds are available at St. Vincent de Paul (2272 San Pablo Ave)
· Outreach workers have provided information about open public facilities such as libraries where the unsheltered can move inside during the day
Additional Information and Resources:
· Check the Air Quality Index for up-to-date air quality information.
· Monitor local air quality conditions and indicators to stay indoors, by visiting www.airnow.gov.
· Sign up to receive local emergency alerts via text, phone, and/or email.
· See this Wildfire Resources webpage and this posted flyer for more details and guidance from the Alameda County Public Health Department.