KENNEWICK — Most of the time, dining outdoors during the summer in Tri-Cities is an ideal, picturesque experience. But with the current Air Quality Index nearing 300, Tri-Citians are advised to stay indoors.
Local restaurants are taking different approaches to operation through the poor air quality. Some places, like Anthony’s at Columbia Point, have stopped offering outdoor dining until the air quality improves. LU LU Craft Bar & Kitchen is still offering seats outdoors by request, but isn’t staffing the patio like they normally would. Alternately, 3 Eyed Fish is continuing to offer outdoor seating like normal, with the choice at the customer’s discretion.
Is it dangerous to eat outside when the air quality is this bad? What should you do if you get seated outdoors? Here’s everything you need to know about outdoor dining with poor air quality.
Air quality safety tips
Many organizations, including the American Lung Association and the Safety Action Center, recommend everyone stays inside as much as possible when the local AQI is 150 or higher.
Spend as much time as you can inside with the doors and windows shut. Set your air conditioning to recirculate and set up an air purifier, if you have one.
Some areas have programs providing air purifiers to qualified households, like the Washington State Department of Commerce.
Still sitting outside? Stay safe
If you spend a prolonged amount of time outside during these conditions, for whatever reason, stay safe with these tips.
- Drink plenty of water, more than normal.
- Wear a mask to filter fine particles. Standard masks and cloth masks will not filter the small particles, but N-95s aren’t right for everyone. Ask your doctor which mask is right for you.
- Monitor your breathing. Note if it starts to hurt while you breathe.
- Avoid overexertion. When outside, opt for low-energy activities.
- Take breaks inside regularly.
Warning signs of smoke exposure
Spending too much time outdoors when the air quality is poor can cause smoke exposure. Look for symptoms of smoke exposure in yourself and those around you. These symptoms are listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Eye, throat irritation
- Chest pain
- Trouble breathing
- Runny nose/irritated sinuses
- Wheezing, shortness of breath
- Fast heartbeat
If any pets or livestock exhibit the same symptoms, contact a veterinarian immediately.