Air district officials say smoke from the Kincade Fire will drift over the Bay Area intermittently on Saturday but will hopefully be ushered out by gusty winds overnight.
High winds expected to start late Saturday are a "mixed blessing" since they can blow away unhealthy smoke but could also kick up the fire raging in Sonoma County, said Lisa Fasano, spokeswoman for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
As of 10 a.m. Saturday, the region's air quality was listed as moderate, in the yellow zone, affecting only unusually sensitive people. Sonoma County has created a map showing the areas in which air quality is the most dangerours.
Later in the day, however, the reading is expected to move to the orange level, and air district officials say that's when people with heart or lung disease, older adults, children and teenagers should consider reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.
Air quality impacts are also possible in the Bay Area on Sunday and Monday due to unexpected weather shifts or local wildfires.
During periods of heavy smoke, residents should stay inside with windows and doors closed until it subsides. It is also recommended that air-conditioning units and car vent systems be set to re-circulate, air district officials said.
Residents should remember, however, that heat is the most important health factor to consider, Fasano said.
"People need to stay cool, that's the highest priority," Fasano said. When temperatures soar, residents should go to cooling centers or seek other areas that provide filtered air such as libraries or movie theaters.
A Spare the Air is in effect for Saturday, the air district said.
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.
Real-time air quality readings are available at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District website.
Information on wildfire safety tips, including air quality school activity recommendations, is available on the air district's web site.
To find out when a Spare the Air Alert is in effect, residents can register for email AirAlerts at www.sparetheair.org, call 1(800) HELP-AIR, download the Spare the Air App or connect with Spare the Air on Facebook or Twitter.