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posted on August 22, 2013 14:50

NEWS RELEASE--FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                  DATE: August 22, 2013

Contact: Tom Shanahan
Public Information Officer
(208) 334-0668

Free N95 Respirator Masks Available in Wood River Valley

Air quality in the Wood River Valley is starting to improve; however, public health officials would like to remind all residents to pay attention to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality’s air quality reports and forecasts to determine if the air quality is safe. 


N95 Respirator Mask

If the air quality reaches unhealthy levels and Wood River Valley residents must be outside, it is recommended they use a N95 respirator mask to help protect against wildfire smoke. Paper dust masks commonly found at hardware stores do not protect against wildfire smoke. There are supplies of FREE N95 respirator masks available to the public at locations listed below, along with recommendations on using them. 

Along with the masks, public health officials offer the following recommendations for protection from wildfire smoke:

  • Everyone should avoid heavy work or exercise outdoors when the air quality index reaches unhealthy or hazardous levels.
  • Daycare providers should keep children indoors for recess.
  • Older adults, small children, and those with respiratory conditions or heart disease may be more sensitive to poor air quality and should stay indoors and avoid heavy work when air quality reaches unhealthy levels.
  • Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated helps dilute phlegm in the respiratory tract, making it easier to cough out smoke particles. Plan on coughing; it is nature’s way of clearing your lungs. Avoid caffeine products, sugary drinks and alcohol because they have a dehydrating effect.
  • Stay cool if the weather is warm. Run your air conditioner to recirculate air. Turn the fan blower on manually so it continuously filters the air in your home.
  • For homes without a central heating and/or cooling system, use portable air purifiers to remove particles. Air purifiers that utilize HEPA filters are best; avoid using air purifiers that produce ozone. Visit areas in your community that have air conditioning, such as a library.
  • If you wear contact lenses, switch to eyeglasses in a smoky environment.

Wood River Valley Locations for Free N95 Respirator Masks

  • The Community Campus: 1050 Fox Acres Road, Hailey, ID 83333
  • Hailey Public Library: 7 West Cory, Hailey, ID 83333
  • The Community Library: 415 Spruce Avenue, Ketchum, Idaho 83340
  • Bellevue Public Library: 117 E Pine Street, Bellevue, ID 83313
  • Sun Valley City Hall: 81 Elkhorn Road, Sun Valley, ID 83353
  • South Central Public Health District: Bellevue Office, 117 East Ash Street, Bellevue, ID 83313
  • Fire Department: Elkhorn Station, 100 Arrowleaf, Sun Valley, Idaho 83353

It is important to properly use the N95 respirator mask. Guidance for use includes:

  • Place the respirator over your nose and under your chin, with one strap below the ears and one strap above (see photo above). If you’re wearing a hat, it should go over the straps.
  • Pinch the metal nose clip tightly over the top of your nose.
  • Facial hair will cause the respirator to leak, so you should be clean-shaven.
  • It takes more effort to breathe through a respirator. It can also increase the risk of heat stress. If you are working outside while wearing a respirator, take frequent breaks, especially if you are working in the heat or doing heavy work. Be sure to drink lots of water.
  • If you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or nauseated, tell someone, go to a less smoky area, remove your respirator, and get medical attention.
  • People with heart or lung disease should consult with their doctor before using a respirator.
  • Discard the respirator when: (1) it becomes more difficult to breathe through it or (2) if the inside becomes dirty. If necessary, use a fresh respirator each day.
  • Keep your respirator clean and dry. Be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on use and storage.

Before using a respirator mask, remember the respirators:

  • Are not recommended for use during exercise.
  • Will not protect you if you have a beard.
  • Should not be used without talking to a doctor if you have heart or lung problems.
  • Are not sized for children and should not be used on them.