June is barely a week old. Summer doesnít make its official debut for a couple more weeks. Yet already, smoke from wildfires has watered North Idaho eyes, scratched throats and raised a dismal specter: What if the most glorious season of outdoor enjoyment becomes a casualty of Mother Natureís mayhem? What if the air-clogging phenomenon that provided a punctuation mark to the end of most summers becomes the beginning, middle and close of every summertime sentence?
Relax. This isnít an attempt to convince anyone of the perils of climate change, whether attributable to man, God or cow.
This is a plea for caution and consideration. Itís also a quick reference guide for information that might help you navigate the treachery ahead with minimal damage.
Of course, the best way to prevent smoky skies is to prevent the fires that create the smoke. While Ma Nature canít be stopped when she decides to play with her lightning bolts, humans have total control over the fire at their fingertips. Discarded cigarettes, neglected campfires, irresponsible unleashing of fireworks, these are but three of the fiercest public enemies that can lead to disaster. All are avoidable.
Smoke does far more than mess with the bliss North Idahoans usually experience in the summer. It can make you sick. In extreme cases, it can be fatal.
Thereís a super website loaded with resources for anyone concerned about smoke. Keep this bookmark through the summer: https://bit.ly/2W4uDW3
The site offers a toolbox that includes:
• A website that monitors air quality by zip code. Check out: https://airnow.gov
• Smoke advisories and forecasts by state.
• Questions and answers about wildfire smoke. Example: If you need to wear a mask to minimize health risks, use those labeled NIOSH N95 or P100. If they donít fit properly, they wonít work.
The site also includes links to other helpful resources. Please take a few minutes and familiarize yourself with it.
Itís OK to lament the days of old, when North Idaho smoke was far less frequent and nefarious. Looks like this cloud might stick around for some time.