When there are wildfires in our area, some days the smoke smells very strong and you can't even see the Tetons. At what point does the smoke become a health risk so that we should avoid outdoor activities? We take the health of our athletes and coaches seriously, and monitor the Air Quality Report on smokey days. Sometimes when it smells very smokey outside, and looks hazy, surprisingly the monitoring lists the AQI (Air Quality Index) as "Good".
We have spoken with the Teton County Health Department, and they recommend that sometimes even when the AQI is listed as good, we should use the precautionary principle, and avoid strenuous activity (don't do windsprints etc; keep the respiratory rates low) and kids with pre-existing conditions (ie asthma) should abstain from participating in practice.
CDC & Airnow.gov Monitoring
Take steps to decrease your risk from wildfire smoke:
Check local air quality reports. Listen and watch for news or health warnings about smoke. Find out if your community provides reports about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index (AQI) or check the report on AirNow.gov. In addition, pay attention to public health messages about safety measures.
Teton County School District Policy for Smoke and Sports
The Wyoming High School Activities Association does not have smoke guidelines but the Montana Association does so Mike Hansen (Activities Director) has gotten their information and linked it to the TCSD website as well as linking the current air quality for our community (it updates hourly). Mike Hansen monitors it on days it gets bad and communicates that with coaches when needed. He also works with other schools Jackson teams compete against regarding levels that get high in their communities and adjust as necessary (in the past have held students out of a cross country race in ID due to smoke). Here is the information from the TCSD website:
Air Quality Protocol - Per guidelines from the MHSAA TCSD will continue to hold practices if the air quality is listed as moderate or below and look to modify or move practices if it is unhealthy for sensitive groups. If it moves to unhealthy, we will practice indoors. HERE is a link to the guidelines from the MHSAA. HERE is a link to the current air quality in Jackson.