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Health & Wellness Services Division of Student Affairs

Protect yourself from wildfire smoke

WSU community members should take precautions to reduce exposure to unhealthy, smoky air.

Breathing in smoke can have immediate health effects. Older adults, pregnant women, children, and people with preexisting respiratory and heart conditions may be more likely to get sick if they breathe in wildfire smoke.

If you experience any signs of respiratory distress, contact your health care provider or call Health & Wellness Services at 509-335-3575.

There are many steps you can take for limiting exposure to unhealthy, smoky air.

Avoid being outdoors. Use public transportation rather than walking or biking.

Stay inside as much as possible. Keep indoor air clean by closing windows, and if possible use an air filter and air conditioning. Make sure your air conditioner’s fresh-air intake is closed and the filter is clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside.

Do not add to indoor pollution. Avoid using candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves. Do not vacuum, because vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home. Do not smoke, because smoking puts even more pollution into the air.

Follow your health care provider’s guidance. If you have asthma or another lung disease, follow your doctor’s advice about medicines and your respiratory management plan.

Wear a mask. Masks can help limit exposure to unhealthy, smoky air. Students can get a free basic mask from the clinic’s waiting and lobby area. The CDC advises against relying solely on basic masks for protection.

Students can purchase N95 masks at the Health & Wellness Services’ pharmacy for $1.50. These masks offer more protection than basic masks.

WSU Environmental Health & Safety has additional resources on wildfire smoke including a real time map.

What students need to know about Zika

While concerns about Zika virus currently impact very few students at WSU, our healthcare providers have been closely monitoring recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Zika is currently limited to certain geographical areas. The virus can spread through mosquito bites and sexual transmission.

At this point in time, here’s what WSU students need to know about Zika:

  • If you’re traveling to a warm climate, check information from the CDC about Zika virus in that area.
  • If Zika is a concern in the area you’re traveling to, it’s important to take precautions for preventing mosquito bites. Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants, and use mosquito repellent when outdoors.
  • Most importantly, if you begin to feel ill and experience viral or flu-like symptoms, be sure to seek medical attention.

You can find more information about Zika from the CDC.

Get your meningitis B vaccination!

Meningitis is a rare but serious illness, with a high risk for young adults – especially those under 25 who live in close quarters with others, like residence halls or Greek housing.

By college, most students have received a standard 4-strain meningitis vaccine. For full protection, we strongly recommend you also get a meningitis type B vaccine.

For meningitis B, we currently offer BEXSERO, a two-dose vaccine. You’ll need to wait at least a month after getting the first dose to come in for your second, but you can get the second dose any time after that. BEXSERO is approved for use in individuals 10 through 25 years of age.

You can see a full list of the immunizations we offer on our services page or give us a call for details at 509-335-3575.

Air Quality – A Letter from Melynda Huskey

Dear students,

I’m sure you are all well aware of the air quality issues we are experiencing due to the many wildfires burning throughout the Pacific Northwest. Given the poor air quality, we’ve received many questions about whether we will be starting the new semester on schedule. The health and comfort of students and all members of our community is of the utmost importance to us. We also have a responsibility to proceed with classes and other operations, if at all possible.

Based on consultation with Dr. Bruce Wright, executive director of Health & Wellness Services, and others, we will hold classes and continue business as usual until conditions require us to re-evaluate that decision. We are monitoring all available information in order to keep students safe and healthy.

In the meantime, if the air quality is affecting your ability to attend classes, please contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 509-335-5757 or your professors. We are asking all faculty members to be flexible and understanding of students who have air quality-related health issues. We encourage all students to:

  • Stay inside as much as possible
  • Use public transportation rather than walking or biking
  • Visit Health & Wellness Services or another health care provider if you have asthma or other respiratory conditions
  • Check with Health & Wellness Services or your health care provider prior to wearing a mask if you have health conditions such as heart or lung diseases

If you have health questions or would like to make an appointment, you can reach Health & Wellness Services at 509-335-3575 or visit http://hws.wsu.edu.

You can find more information about how to mitigate the impact of poor air quality from:

We will continue to closely monitor the situation throughout the day and week, and provide updates on any changes as they become available. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Melynda Huskey
Interim Vice President for Student Affairs, Washington State University