Fire season reminders: Stay informed, stay safe

June 13, 2013

With more than six active wildfires in the state of Colorado, CU-Boulder would like to share these health, safety and campus policy reminders.

Wildfire smoke

Smoke from multiple fires is affecting many communities in our area. Exercise appropriate caution to preserve your health if you live or work in an area with high levels of particulates in the air.

Wildfire smoke contains pollutants that can be harmful to health. Particles from smoke tend to be very small and can be inhaled into the deepest recesses of the lungs. Even in healthy people, this can cause pulmonary inflammation and temporary reductions in lung function. Particulate matter can also affect the body's immune system.

In general, if you can see or smell smoke, Colorado Department of Health officials recommend you avoid outdoor physical activities. If visibility is decreased to less than five miles, smoke has reached unhealthy levels.

When smoke levels are high, even healthy people may experience coughing, a scratchy throat, irritated sinuses, shortness of breath, chest pain, headaches, stinging eyes, and a runny nose.

Colorado air quality updates are available at Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Air Pollution Control Division website.

Monitoring ongoing wildfire information

There are a variety of information sources available to the university community. Most importantly, when a fire or other hazard affects Boulder County, local authorities update information on the Boulder Office of Emergency Management website at http://boulderoem.org.  This website also contains information on how to sign up to receive alerts when an emergency may affect your home, child care provider or other place of interest within Boulder County.

Other sources for fire information include:

Faculty, staff and students living in active fire areas are urged to pay attention to advisories concerning the changing conditions and possible evacuations and to follow instructions from city and law enforcement officials. 

Campus response to wildfires

In a situation where a wildfire's impacts more directly affect the campus, CU officials will partner with city and county officials to closely monitor the situation.

The university will update campus-specific information as needed on the CU-Boulder home page at http://www.colorado.edu and the Emergency Information Line at 303-492-4636. CU faculty, staff and students should also monitor their campus e-mail and cell phones for possible emergency alerts, texts and updates.

If you live in an area affected by wildfire, flood or other local emergency, the campus has developed Disaster Leave Guidelines for pre-evacuees, evacuees and those who have suffered losses in these emergencies. 

CU-Boulder encourages all members of our campus community to explore these resources and stay informed regarding emergencies that may affect them at home or at work.

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