Officials warn of smoky air in South County

Residents cautioned to stay indoors as much as possible

The areas in red show where air quality is "unhealthy" with an Air Quality Index of between 151 and 200 the afternoon of Nov. 9, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

Santa Clara County officials are advising residents to stay indoors as much as possible today, as wildfires at numerous locations in California are contributing to poor local air quality.

The Morgan Hill Unified School District posted on Facebook that all of its schools will be restricting outdoor student activity throughout the day Nov. 9. The Live Oak High School football game scheduled for Friday evening will continue as planned, until further notice.

District officials are monitoring the air quality “every 15 minutes,” the post continues. As of about 12:40pm, the air quality index in Morgan Hill was 169. An “unhealthy” AQI is between 151 and 200.

Also on Nov. 9, the county’s Public Health Department issued an air quality advisory, which offers the following tips: “If you smell smoke, protect your health by avoiding exposure. If possible, stay inside with windows and doors closed until smoke levels subside. Set air conditioning units and car vent systems to re-circulate to prevent outside air from moving inside. Smoke can irritate the eyes and airways, causing coughing, a dry scratchy throat and irritated sinuses. Elevated particulate matter in the air can trigger wheezing in those who suffer from respiratory conditions, such as asthma or emphysema/COPD. It is recommended that parents and school administrators check air quality readings before allowing children to practice outdoor sports while air quality is unhealthy.”

Elderly residents, children and those with respiratory illnesses are particularly susceptible to elevated air pollution levels and should take extra precaution to avoid exposure, the county’s health advisory notes.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has called for a “Winter Spare the Air Alert,” asking residents to avoid creating additional air pollution Nov. 9, and refrain from activities such as lawn mowing, leaf blowing, driving and barbecuing. Burning wood or any other solid fuels in a fireplace, woodstove or other wood-burning device is illegal during the Spare the Air Alert.