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This blog is maintained as an effort to coordinate and collocate responding agencies' information for easier public access during events on the Kenai Peninsula. The information here is written and provided by the contributing agencies. NOTE: The blog will be updated as the need arises and may be dormant at times.

Monday, June 10, 2019

06/10/19 How to Determine Visibility and Exposure Due to Smoke from Wildfires

Residents may be experiencing smoke from nearby wildfires due to the prevailing winds. The easiest way to determine visibility and limited exposure is using the 5-3-1 Index Method. See the chart below for limited exposure based upon who you are or what health conditions you may have:


Determine the limit of your visual range by looking for distant targets or familiar landmarks such as mountains, hills or buildings at known distances (miles). The visual range is that point at which these targets are no longer visible. As a general rule of thumb: If you can clearly see the outlines of individual trees on the horizon it is generally less than five miles away.

Ideally, the viewing of any distance targets should be made with the sun behind you. Looking into the sun or at an angle increases the ability of sunlight to reflect off of the smoke, and thus making the visibility estimate less reliable. Once distance has been determined, follow this simple guide:

If visibility is well over five miles, the air quality is generally good.
Even if visibility is five miles away but generally hazy, air quality is moderate and beginning to deteriorate, and is generally healthy, except possibly for smoke sensitive persons. The general public should avoid prolonged exposure if conditions are smoky to the point where visibility is closer to the 5-mile range.
If under five 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. These people should minimize outdoor activity.
If under three miles, the air quality is unhealthy for everyone.  Young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness. These people should minimize outdoor activity.
If under one mile, the air quality is unhealthy for everyone.  Everyone should avoid all outdoor activities.

Additional resources on Health & Safety topics are listed in the right column of this blog.

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