KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- The smoke from the western wildfires arrived in Kansas City weeks ago, but it wasn’t until yesterday that it came down low enough to start impacting breathing.
Right now, it’s just considered moderate and noticeable only to those with existing breathing problems or sensitivity.
However, it’s worse not too far from us in Kansas. In a town called Ellis near Hays, for example, at about 5:30 p.m.
Dr. Heather Harris is a University of Kansas Health System family medicine doctor in Hays. She said some of her patients have been coughing more, particularly those with asthma, allergies, and more serious lung conditions.
“It’s only been the last few days, so we’re not seeing any true respiratory concerns as of yet,” she said. “Definitely the longer you’re out, the more trouble you’re going to have.”
“It may only be in the moderate category, but if you do that day after day after day, it kind of builds up a little bit for you and you start to see some of those bigger impacts,” said Jayson Prentice with the KDHE Bureau of Air.
Prentice assists in monitoring Kansas air quality, but also has expertise in wildland fires.
He was assigned to the Cameron Peak fire near Rocky Mountain National Park in the last week as a member of an interagency Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program. He said that -- while that fire is closer -- most of what we’re seeing now is due to wildfires farther away, like what’s been ravaging California.
The kind of eerie orange sky they’ve seen in San Francisco is an obvious indicator. The warning signs are less visible in our area.
“When you’re in this moderate and, even unhealthy for sensitive group, it’s kind of hard to tell just by looking outside,” Prentice said.
That’s why it’s good to check an air quality map. One available here shows pollution specific to the wildfires. We’re still green, but Hays is orange. It gets redder and darker as you travel further west.
It’s a day by day thing because fires can flare up or calm down and weather factors in as well. So, not much help planning for a road trip to our west.
The doctor’s advice is be sure to have your inhaler with you and pay attention to how you’re responding to decide whether you should get indoors and close the windows.
You can click on their map for specifics related to your particular health status.