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Chamber Communique: How to be prepared in case smoke returns

Are you prepared for wildfire smoke events?

Where can you find information to better prepare your home and family for smoke?

How do you know what the air quality is today?

The Ashland Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Ashland Fire & Rescue and Asante Ashland Community Hospital, has developed a program to help guide businesses and residents in tackling the issue of wildfire smoke. After the fires from last summer and resulting smoke we all experienced, we determined that it would be good to be as prepared as possible should we experience smoke again in our community. The Ashland Chamber and Ashland Fire & Rescue have been meeting for many months doing research, gathering appropriate data and consolidating the information to make it easily accessible.

We conducted a hands-on workshop for small businesses and created short videos to share tips on how to prepare for smoke. Key elements shared at the workshop are now available on the chamber website (www.ashlandchamber.com/smoke) and the city/Ashland Forest Resiliency website (www.ashland.or.us/smoke). These websites feature videos on what type of mask to purchase and how to wear it, equipment recommendations such as filters and air cleaners to mitigate smoke impacts, and how to interpret air quality data. You will also find a fillable Smoke Awareness Guide with advice on equipment and communications.

On the city website, you will also find information on air quality, prescribed burns and more helpful contacts. Additionally, there are helpful articles from other Western cities that have experienced similar smoke events.

In case of an emergency such as a fire nearby, the Citizen Alert system would be implemented. Citizens who have opted in will be notified by phone, text or email with critical information. To sign up for the free Citizen Alert, go to www.ashland.or.us/alert. If you do not have internet, you can sign up through the Ashland Public Library. Ashland Fire & Rescue and the Ashland Chamber of Commerce encourage everyone to “opt-in” to Citizen Alert.

We will continue to work together to update these sites for best practices and encourage you to take action today. Be smart, prepare now and don’t wait until it’s too late.

Working together for the health of our community: Ashland Chamber of Commerce, Ashland Fire & Rescue and Asante Ashland Community Hospital.

— Sandra Slattery is executive director of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce. Alison Lerch is the Fire Adapted Communities coordinator for Ashland Fire & Rescue. For more information, go to www.ashlandchamber.com, call 541-482-3486 or stop by the office at 110 East Main St.