Green, Yellow, Red Burn Code Program
Use this simple guide to burning wood, planning alternate transportation and getting outdoor exercise during the winter pollution season.
When the Air Quality Index (AQI) is between zero and 79, it`s green and that means it`s okay to light a fire in your wood stove. But keep in mind that you should always allow enough oxygen for your fire so that it burns "smarter." Never overload the firebox or permit the fire to smolder, as this can emit literally tons of particulates and carbon monoxide into the air that we breathe.
Slow down on the amount of wood you burn, or stop burning altogether. when the AQI is between 80 and 100, the color code switches to yellow. This is still a voluntary stage, but if you stop burning wood now, it may be possible to avoid worse pollution tomorrow. Have an alternate transportation plan in place before winter sets in, and be prepared to share rides when pollution is on the rise. Take the bus for fun today and find out how you can use Citifare between work and home, so that you`ll be prepared for yellow days. Cut back on car trips. Although pollution levels aren`t in the unhealthful range, it`s advisable to limit outdoor exercise, especially if you have respiratory problems. Devise moderate recess activities for those children who might have respiratory difficulties.
When AQI exceeds 100, it`s red and that means stop all residential and commercial burning immediately. If weather forecasts show little chance of the temperature inversion lifting, the District Health Officer will call a Stage 1 Alert and ban all burning for 24 hours, or until weather patterns change and the pollution levels decrease. Warnings and/or fines will be levied against anyone ignoring a Stage 1 burn ban. Should you not learn of a ban until after you`ve started your fire, you`ll be permitted a three-hour burn-down time. To speed the burning, open the damper and do not add any more wood. It`s essential that you cut back on car trips during red days. If you can put off a trip to the store for one day, please do so. If we all cut back on driving just a little we can help to clear the air. During alerts, you should avoid all outdoor activities, especially if you have serious respiratory or heart problems. The Air Quality Management Division (AQMD) will alert the Washoe County School District on red days and advise that children be kept from strenuous outdoor activities.
Sole Source of Heat Declaration (28.5 KB)
Green - When the Air Quality Index (AQI) is in the Good or low to mid Moderate range, the burn code is Green and that means it’s okay to light a fire in your stove or fireplace. But keep in mind that you should always burn seasoned wood.
Yellow - Slow down on the amount of wood you burn or stop burning altogether. When the AQI reaches the upper end of the Moderate range, the burn code switches to Yellow. This is still a voluntary stage, but if you stop burning wood now, it may be possible to avoid worse pollution tomorrow.
Red - When the AQI exceeds 100, it’s Red and that means stop all residential and commercial burning immediately. If weather forecasts show little chance of the temperature inversion lifting, the District Health Officer will call a Stage 1 Episode prohibiting burning for 24 hours, or until weather patterns change and the pollution levels decrease.
The program is in effect from November through February and applies to Southern Washoe County from Cold Springs to Washoe Valley.
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- Homes in ZIP codes OUTSIDE the burn restriction area;
- Homes where wood burning is the only available source of heat (Note: You must submit a sole source of heat declaration to the AQMD each winter season. Contact the AQMD at (775) 784-7200 for a declaration form or visit the Green, Yellow, Red Burn Code Program page.);
- Fireplaces and stoves that operate exclusively with natural gas or propane;
- Non-permitted cooking devices; and
- Ceremonial fires related to specific religious activities.
- Call the air quality hotline at (775) 785-4110 for daily recorded burn status information;
- Sign-up for a daily air quality update email by contacting the AQMD at (775) 784-7200;
- Listen to television and radio weather forecasts;
- Check the Reno-Gazette Journal's weather page; or
- Visit the AQMD website at www.washoecounty.us/health