Whitman County asks residents to stop calling 911 to report air quality issues

Whitman County Smoke Facebook Post

WHITMAN COUNTY, Wash.– Smoke across the Inland Northwest was so bad Saturday, people were calling 911 to report it.

In a Facebook post, the Whitman County Sheriff’s Office asked that people stop calling the emergency line to notify responders about the smoke and bad air quality. The post went on to say that the dispatch center is well aware of the hazardous air quality and residents should only dial 911 for emergencies.

Air quality dipped into hazardous levels across Eastern Washington Saturday as smoke from local and regional wildfires blanketed the area.

The Air Quality Index works by monitoring how many pollutants are in the air on a scale of 0 to 500. As the AQI value rises, so does the level of health concern for the general population. When air quality reaches the hazardous range, it means the entire population is more likely to be affected.

If the levels reach beyond 500, it is considered beyond index. According to the U.S. Air Quality Index website, when pollutants reach hazardous or above, everyone should take steps to protect themselves. Experts recommend staying indoors and reducing activity levels.

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Posted by Whitman County Sheriff's Office on Saturday, September 12, 2020