Free free N95 and KN95 masks are available for residents in areas impact by the wildfire’s smoke plume
Several local and state agencies, including the New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD), New Orleans Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (NOHSEP), Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (SWBNO) and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LaDOTD), continue to address the active wildfire burning on private-owned, forested-wetlands between Bayou Sauvage National Urban Wildlife Refuge and the Michoud Canal and today (Nov. 7).
While there is no immediate threat to residential or commercial structures in the area, officials are reminding residents that the biggest hazard is smoke that is impacting air quality and driver visibility, adding that weather conditions are expected to converge with the wildfire’s impact to create worsening driving conditions this week .
The National Weather Service (NWS) forecast indicates that fog potential will be increasing tonight and Wednesday night across the New Orleans area. While weather conditions will likely cause smoke from the wildfire in New Orleans East to remain trapped near the surface, and move slowly in a north or northwesterly direction. Motorists in the area should be prepared for sudden changes in visibility and use extreme caution when driving during the late night and early morning hours. By Thursday night into Friday morning, wind direction will begin to shift, and the smoke plume may move in more of a westerly direction, bringing it into the more densely populated portions of the city.
Tips for driving in foggy conditions include:
- Slow down and allow extra time to reach your destination.
- Make your vehicle visible to others both ahead of you and behind you by using your low-beam headlights since this means your taillights will also be on. Use fog lights if you have them.
- Never use your high-beam lights. Using high beam lights causes glare, making it more difficult for you to see what’s ahead of you on the road.
- Leave plenty of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you to account for sudden stops or changes in the traffic pattern.
- In extremely dense fog where visibility is near zero, the best course of action is to first turn on your hazard lights, then simply pull into a safe location such as a parking lot of a local business and stop.
- If there is no parking lot or driveway to pull into, pull your vehicle off to the side of the road as far as possible. Once you come to a stop, turn off all lights except your hazard flashing lights, set the emergency brake and take your foot off of the brake pedal to be sure the taillights are not illuminated so that other drivers don’t mistakenly run into you.
Officials also remind residents that statewide burn ban issued in August remains in effect and open fires are prohibited by law at all times in the City of New Orleans.
RESOURCES & ADDITIONAL TIPS
Free Masks for Residents in Areas Impacted by Smoke
The City in coordination with New Orleans Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness is distributing free N95 and KN95 masks to communities impacted by the wetlands fire smoke. Individuals in need of free masks can visit the following locations:
- New Orleans East Regional Library, 5641 Read Blvd., Monday – Thursday, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Friday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Joe Brown Recreation Center, 5601 Read Blvd., Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Sanchez Multi-Service Center, 1616 Fats Domino Ave., Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Algiers Regional Library, 3014 Holiday Drive, Monday – Thursday, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Friday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Health Impacts and Safety Tips
Residents should keep an eye out for these symptoms related to wildfire smoke:
- Coughing or shortness of breath
- Scratchy or sore throat
- Chest pains
- Burning pain in eyes
- Runny nose or inflamed sinuses
Air Quality Tips for Dealing with Smoke:
- Limit time spent outdoors as much as possible
- Keep windows closed
- Run A/C on recirculation mode and use a clean filter
- Wear a face covering or N95/KN95 mask, if outside
Orleans Parish residents are encouraged to sign up for NOLA Ready emergency text alerts by texting NOLAREADY (one word) to 77295.