When Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Air pollution is visible over Sausalito these days | photo & post from the August 21 Sausalito Currents

The smoke drifting over Sausalito from the wildfires to the north is an unpleasant reminder that fire season has begun. With hundreds of acres of undeveloped land in the Marin Headlands between Sausalito and the ocean, our community faces a significant risk from a rapidly spreading wildland fire.

Our local fire department, Southern Marin Fire, is working hard to reduce the threat of wildfire to Sausalito residents. Below are some of the initiatives currently underway.

  • Removal of excess vegetation from evacuation routes. District crews have removed 226 tons of vegetation from 144 streets in Southern Marin.
  • Chipper days. During the past year, a district chipper crew made four scheduled visits to Sausalito neighborhoods to help residents dispose of excess vegetation around their homes.
  • Community education. Through mailers and public outreach like personal home assessments, the district has been encouraging residents to prepare for wildfire by hardening their homes and creating defensible space.

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 asthma, emphysema, or COPD. Elderly persons, children, and individuals with respiratory illnesses are particularly susceptible to elevated air pollution levels and should take extra precautions to avoid exposure.

To find out when a Spare the Air Alert is in effect, residents can sign up for text alerts by texting the word “START” to 817-57, registering for AirAlert email notifications, calling 1-800-HELP-AIR, or downloading the Spare the Air app for iPhone or Android.