Wildfire smoke will likely be with us through the summer and into the fall. Here’s what you need to know.
Wildfire smoke can cause irritating symptoms for healthy people and more serious health issues for people with respiratory problems and heart and lung disease. It’s important to know how to protect yourself and your family from smoky air whenever possible.
Who is most at risk for the harmful effects of smoke?
Infants and young children suffer more from the effects of smoke because they breathe more air than adults for their body size. Older adults and people with lung and heart conditions are also especially sensitive to smoke in the air. Even low levels of smoke can cause breathing problems for sensitive groups with asthma, COPD, emphysema, and other chronic lung diseases. In addition, smoke can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke for people with chronic heart conditions and can increase the risk of premature birth in pregnant women.
When should we become concerned about the symptoms of smoke exposure?
Common effects of smoke exposure include irritated eyes, nose, and throat. However, you should call your doctor immediately if you have shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, headaches, fatigue, or a combination of those symptoms that become severe.
What if I have an event outside or my child has a game we can’t miss, and the air quality is low?
Visit the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality’s air quality website or the Idaho Smoke Information Blog to check local smoke conditions. Download the AIR Idaho application on your mobile device for current smoke conditions in your area. The Department of Health and Welfare also provides activity guidelines for outdoor events and other resources to help determine your risk level. If an outdoor event or game isn’t canceled because of smoke conditions, drink plenty of water and do your best to limit your time outside. If smoke-related symptoms become difficult or get a lot worse, move indoors. Your family’s health is more important than a sporting event.
Should we consider wearing masks when conditions are poor?
While the most effective way to protect yourself from smoke is to stay indoors, we recognize this is not always possible. People who must be outside in the smoky air may benefit from wearing “particulate respirators” or N95 respirators. Respirator masks worn correctly may provide protection by filtering out fine particles in the smoke. However, many people find it difficult to wear a mask correctly. If a mask does not fit properly, it will provide little or no protection. For some, masks can make it harder to breathe normally. It is a good idea to check with your health care provider before using any mask.
How can we limit our exposure to smoke?
When conditions are poor, you should reduce your time and activities outside as much as possible. Stay indoors, in an air-conditioned area, if you can. If you don’t have air conditioning, go someplace that does, like the mall or library. Otherwise, there are several things you can do to limit the smoky air you breathe:
- Keep your windows and doors closed.
- If you have central air conditioning, use an air filter rated MERV 8 or higher and turn the system fan on.
- If you must drive in smoky areas, keep all windows closed and turn the vehicle airflow to recirculate to reduce the amount of smoke in the vehicle. Use caution and slow down when driving in smoky conditions.
- Do not add to smoky conditions (e.g., burn candles, use propane/wood-burning stoves, aerosol sprays, smoke tobacco products, or vacuum. All of these and more can increase air pollution indoors.
- Change air-conditioning filters more frequently as they may become clogged or dirty.
- Use portable air clearers to reduce indoor air pollution.
- Pay attention to local air quality reports and health warnings.
Where do I go for more information?
Please visit the resources listed below for up-to-date information on smoke conditions and resources on how to stay healthy during wildfire smoke events:
- Idaho Health and Welfare Wildfire Smoke
- Guide for Staying Healthy During Wildfire Smoke
- Department of Environmental Quality Smoke Information
- Washington State Department of Health Wildfire Smoke and Face Masks
Brigitta Gruenberg is the Environmental Health Program Manager for the Department of Health and Welfare.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening Idahoans’ health, safety, and independence. Learn more at healthandwelfare.idaho.gov.
These healthy seasoning blends make simple DIY holiday gifts for friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
- These recipes make about 1 cup. Adjust quantities based on the size and number of jars you are using.
- Prevent waste and get the exact amount you need by purchasing the herbs and spices from the bulk bins.
- Repurpose containers you have around your house or find unique glass jars at thrift stores.
- Get the kids involved with measuring, mixing, filling jars, or creating one-of-a-kind labels.
Chai SpiceAdapted from: My Baking Addiction
Chai is good for spiced nuts, oatmeal, eggnog, and lattes. Try it sprinkled on buttered toast for a spicy spin on cinnamon toast.
- ½ cup ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup ground ginger
- 2 tablespoons ground cardamom
- 2 tablespoons ground all spice
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Everything Bagel MixAdapted from: Cooking Channel TV
As the name implies, this blend is good on just about everything. Salads, potatoes, chicken, eggs, avocado…you name it!
- ⅓ cup sesame seeds
- ⅓ cup poppy seeds
- 3 tablespoons dried minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons dried minced onion
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
Ranch MixAdapted from: The Pioneer Woman
Use this seasoning to make anything “ranch style” including popcorn, roasted potato wedges, and veggie dip.
- ¾ cup dry buttermilk powder
- 1 ½ tablespoons dried parsley
- 1 ½ tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 ½ tablespoons onion powder
- 1 tablespoon dried dill weed
- ½ tablespoon dried chives
- ½ tablespoon sea salt
- ¼ tablespoon ground black pepper
Taco SeasoningAdapted from: The Real Food RDs
Most store-bought taco seasoning has preservatives and added sugars. This version is just herbs, spices, and salt.
- ½ cup chili powder
- 2 ½ tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
July is Idaho Beef Month!
This special designation recognizes the tremendous impact the Idaho Beef Industry has had on local communities and the economy of Idaho and is a legacy that has been carried forward by ranching families for generations. Idaho beef strengthens communities and contributes to strong bodies as well.
Did you know that beef is not only delicious, it is also a significant source of many important nutrients? Check out these fast facts to learn how beef contributes to a healthy diet.
- A 3-ounce serving of lean beef provides 10 essential nutrients in about 170 calories, including high quality protein, zinc, iron and B vitamins. No other protein source offers the same nutrient mix.
- According to National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data, beef contributes approximately 5 percent of total calories to Americans’ diets while contributing more than 5 percent of these essential nutrients: potassium (6.1%), phosphorus (7.3%), iron (8%), vitamin B6 (9.2%), niacin (9.9%), protein (15.2%), zinc (23.1%), and vitamin B12 (25%).
- Beef is a protein powerhouse.
- A 3-ounce serving of beef delivers 25 grams of high-quality protein, which is essential for building and maintaining strength, for both your mind and body.
- You would need to eat 3 cups, or 666 calories, of quinoa, per RACC (Reference Amount Customarily Consumed), which is 140g, to get the same amount of protein (25 grams) as in 3 oz. of cooked beef, which is about 170 calories.
- The nutrients in beef promote health throughout life.
- Protein, iron, zinc and B-vitamins in beef help ensure young children start life strong, building healthy bodies and brains.
- Protein is especially important as we age. After 50 years of age, adults are at risk for losing muscle mass, leading to falls and frailty that affect their ability to age independently.
- Many cuts of beef qualify as lean.
- Nearly 40 cuts of beef – including some of the most popular cuts such as sirloin – are lean as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), meaning they contain less than 10 grams total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 mg of cholesterol per 100 grams (3½ oz), cooked, and per RACC (Reference Amount Customarily Consumed), which is 85 grams (3 oz).
- Recent research has shown that lean beef, as part of a heart-healthy diet, can support cardiovascular health.
- Beef’s high-quality protein, iron, and zinc strengthen a healthy diet and are a nutrient-rich complement to the nutrients found in produce like vegetables and fruits. An approachable way to build a healthy plate that includes beef is to first anchor your plate with protein, fill at least half of the plate with colorful vegetables and fruits and incorporate fiber-rich carbohydrates.
Healthy Beef Recipes
Throughout the month of July, celebrate Idaho’s beef industry and let your taste buds be your guide to a variety of delicious beef creations. Visit IDBeef.org for recipes and tips to make Idaho Beef Month a fabulous and flavorful celebration!
Tips for Delicious Grilled Steaks
So, what better way to celebrate Idaho Beef Month than to fire up the grill and create some summertime magic in your own back yard? Launch your BBQ adventure with a few pointers from the pros at Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. that will help you create grilled steaks that are juicy and delicious.
Select Your Cut. Beef is versatile! You won’t go wrong with all-time favorites such as T-bone, Tenderloin and Top Sirloin. Why not try taking your grilling game up a notch with a cut you might not be as familiar with, like a juicy Flat Iron or a lean, flavorful Flank Steak.
Elevate those flavors. Marinades and rubs are a great way to take beef to the next level with minimal effort. Tender beef cuts can be marinated for as little as 15 minutes and up to 2 hours. For less tender cuts, marinating for at least six hours, but not more than 24 hours, will do the trick.
For inspiration and recipes, peruse the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. Flavor Boosting Rubs & Marinades collection.
Fire it Up. Make sure your grill is clean (to prevent flare-ups) and the rack is well-oiled (to prevent sticking). Medium and steady wins the race. When it comes to cooking beef, there is no need to rush the process by using any higher heat than medium. Cooking at a medium heat allows beef to achieve caramelization while still developing rich flavors and avoiding charring.
Grill to perfection. Use an ovenproof or instant-read thermometer to monitor doneness, and let it go – don’t flip the steaks too much. One flip usually does the trick; however, you should take care to avoid charring or burning and be ready to turn down the heat (or move to a cooler spot on the grill) if necessary. Keep in mind the internal temperature will continue to rise for a few minutes after coming off the grill.
Rest & Relax. It’s hard to wait but resting the meat before serving prevents all those tasty juices from draining onto your plate. For most cuts, about five minutes will do then it’s time to sit back and enjoy!
Slicing your steak? If you’re slicing the steak before serving, be sure to cut across the grain. For a drool-worthy finish to your steaks, consider topping them off with compound butter or serving with a sauce.
For more information on Idaho’s beef industry, visit IDBeef.org