Smoke from Fires

Public Health

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What you need to know

Last Updated: 5/14/2024

Smoke from fires can impact air quality and public health in Nebraska. Throughout March and April, prescribed burns in the Flint Hills regions of Kansas and Oklahoma can create smoke that travels to Nebraska. Wildfires located in Nebraska, other states, and Canada can also impact air quality in our state.

​​Smoke Advisories

The Nebraska Departments of Health and Human Services (NDHHS) and Environment and Energy (NDEE) issue smoke advisories when significant air quality impacts are anticipated. Smoke advisories are posted below and on the DHHS News Releases. For more information about air quality and smoke from fires, visit the Nebraska Department of Environment & Energy (NDEE) website.

Canadian Wildfires Expected to Impact Nebraska Air QualityCanadian-Wildfires-Expected-to-Impact-Nebraska-Air-Quality5/14/2024
Smoke Advisory System Activated for 2024Smoke-Advisory-System-Activated-for-20242/27/2024
Smoke Advisory Issued for Eastern NebraskaSmoke-Advisory-Issued-for-Eastern-Nebraska9/7/2023
Smoke Advisory Issued for Central and Eastern NebraskaSmoke-Advisory-Issued-for-Central-and-Eastern-Nebraska9/6/2023
Smoke Advisory Issued for Western NebraskaSmoke-Advisory-Issued-for-Western-Nebraska9/5/2023
Smoke Advisory Issued for Eastern and Central NebraskaSmoke-Advisory-Issued-for-Eastern-and-Central-Nebraska8/30/2023
DHHS/NDEE Issue Smoke Advisory for North Central and Eastern NebraskaDHHS-NDEE-Issue-Smoke-Advisory-for-North-Central-and-Eastern-Nebraska8/28/2023
DHHS/NDEE Issue Smoke Advisory for Eastern NebraskaDHHSNDEE-Issue-Smoke-Advisory-for-Eastern-Nebraska8/17/2023
DHHS/NDEE Issues Smoke Advisory for Central and Eastern NebraskaDHHS-NDEE-Issues-Smoke-Advisory-for-Central-and-Eastern-Nebraska7/17/2023
DHHS/NDEE Issues Smoke Advisory for North Central, Northeastern, and Eastern NebraskaDHHS-NDEE-Issues-Smoke-Advisory-for-North-Central-Northeastern-and-Eastern-Nebraska7/14/2023
DHHS & NDEE Issue Air Quality Advisory for Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan AreaDHHS-&-NDEE-Issue-Air-Quality-Advisory-for-Omaha-Council-Bluffs-Metropolitan-Area6/15/2023
DHHS/NDEE Issues Smoke Advisory for Nebraska - StatewideDHHS-NDEE-Issues-Smoke-Advisory-for-Nebraska--Statewide5/18/2023
Update: DHHS/NDEE Extends Smoke Advisory for Eastern NebraskaUpdate-DHHS-NDEE-Extends-Smoke-Advisory-for-Eastern-Nebraska4/10/2023
DHHS and NDEE Issue Smoke Advisory for Eastern NebraskaDHHS-and-NDEE-Issues-Smoke-Advisory-for-Eastern-Nebraska4/7/2023
Smoke Advisory System Activated for 2023 – Flint Hills Prescribed BurnsSmoke-Advisory-System-Activated-for-2023-Flint-Hills-Prescribed-Burns3/6/2023
Stay Informed on Air Quality and Smoke

  • Click the Subscribe for Updates link at the top of this page to get notifications when new smoke advisories are issued.
  • Visit the AirNow Fire and Smoke Map for fire locations, smoke plumes and particle pollution data for area monitoring locations.
  • Visit website for current air quality conditions and tomorrow's forecast.
  • Check for air quality alerts issued by the National Weather Service.​
  • Learn more about Air Quality and Smoke at the NDEE Website​.

Steps to Protect Your Health

Learn about the Air Quality Index

Protect yourself and your family from the effects of poor air quality by regularly checking the Air Quality Index (AQI) for your area at The AQI is a tool used to determine when the air quality becomes unhealthy.​ A higher AQI, with color codes, the greater health concern. ​

When Air Quality is Unhealthy

  • ​Limit or avoid strenuous outdoor activity and take frequent breaks.
  • People with respiratory or heart-related illnesses should remain indoors.
  • Spend more time indoors when possible and keep windows and doors closed. Make sure to take steps to cool off and use air conditioning if the temperature becomes hot indoors. 
  • Do not add to indoor pollution. When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns, such as candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves. Do not vacuum, because vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home. Do not smoke, because smoking puts even more pollution into the air.

Additional Guidance for Air Quality

​More ​About Health Risks

​​The smoke created by fires can impact a person's health. Smoke contains air pollutants that can be harmful when inhaled. Breathing in smoke from fire events can have short and long-term health effects. ​

Who is most at risk?​

People with cardiovascular or respiratory conditions like congestive heart failure, COPD, emphysema or asthma are at higher risk of having health problems of breathing in smoke. Older adults, pregnant women, children, and outdoor workers are especially at risk.

What are the health effects of breathing in wildfire smoke?

Fine particles from smoke can be inhaled deeply into the lungs. ​Breathing in smoke for a short time can affect you right away. Symptoms of short-term exposure to smoke can include: coughing, irritated sinuses, trouble breathing, headaches, chest pain, asthma attacks, runny nose, and stinging eyes.​ ​​​Exposure to fine particles in smoke over days or weeks can worsen medical conditions such as heart disease, asthma​, and other respiratory conditions.

When should I talk to a healthcare provider

​Anyone with symptoms from smoke or bad air quality should contact their health care provider. If you have asthma or another lung disease, follow your doctor's advice about medicines and about your respiratory management plan. Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen.