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Experience

Community College District puts safety first

Josh Wood, jwood@lmcexperience.com

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With 21 dead, hundreds missing, and more than 160,000 acres lost to the blazes in Northern California, the haze of smoke that has settled over the Bay Area serves as a reminder to the horrors occurring in the North Bay counties.

LMC President Bob Kratochvil urged staff and students to sympathize with the victims of the wildfires.

Safety should be the primary concern going forward as students and staff alike need to go out into the smoke to continue their lives.

To this end the CCCCCD Governing Board along with the college presidents of Contra Costa College, Diablo Valley College and LMC decided Wednesday to close all three campuses.

Kratochvil stated “Los Medanos College, both the Pittsburg Campus and Brentwood Center will be closed Thursday, Oct 12, due to the continuing air quality issues,” Kratochvil went on to say that while the campuses are closed Thursday, there is a chance that the closure could be extended.

Athletics Director Richard Villegas has taken the possible effects of smoke into account and has modified practice for the sports teams. Several sports will either be practicing in the gym, or studying tape and reviewing plays in order to avoid strenuous activity in the smoke. Villegas assured The Experience that the volleyball game would still occur.

“The Volleyball game will be in the gym,” Villegas said, adding that the doors and windows would remain closed to prevent smoke from becoming involved.

Students have also taken note of the potential danger of smoke, and are beginning to take steps to counter it.

“It’s bad to inhale all this junk,” said Student Jerrel Devera, who added that other effects, such as limited visibility and smog like conditions could pose safety threats to those on the road.

Some students, like Kierra Grimmett, have been proactive in their response and have begun to wear protective masks. Grimmett, who has asthma and needs to wear the mask to avoid making it worse, is concerned about the effects of the smoke.

“If you do have to go outside, make sure to bring things to prevent the effects of the smoke,” Grimmet reminds.

Individuals looking to take precautions against smoke can follow some general rules from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Staying indoors as much as possible is one step that everyone can take; as well as making sure windows are closed. People can also set their air conditioners at home and in their cars to recycle air so as to avoid funneling in smoke from outside.

If you must go outside, there are several masks that can help filter out harmful particles. Surgical masks and filter masks from the hardware store will not help — search instead for masks called “particulate respirators.”

According to the California Department of Public Health, particulate respirators can be found at many pharmacies and home improvement stores, and should have the word “NIOSH” printed somewhere on the packaging. “NIOSH” is also accompanied by “N95” or “P100.”

The Department of Public health also urges individuals to chose masks with two straps: one for above the ears and another for below.

More information about wildfire smoke and its side effects and risks can be found on the Center for Disease Control’s website at www.cdc.gov/features/wildfires/index.html

Information on air quality can be found at www.airnow.gov/

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The student news site of Los Medanos College
Community College District puts safety first