How you can protect yourself and the environment on an ‘Air Quality Alert Day’

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Monday was an Air Quality Alert Day, as is Tuesday, but many need to look up exactly what an "Orange Alert" means. FOX4 is working for you to break down why these days are declared, and what you need to know to keep you and your family safe.

The Mid-America Regional Council puts out an ozone forecast every day. Green is good, yellow is moderate and orange means that certain people will have problems with pollution in the air that day.

"This could impact those who have breathing problems, respiratory issues, asthma, COPD, cardiovascular problems, really need to limit outdoor exposure because it can affect them a little bit more when you combine it with this high heat we have in the forecast," FOX4 Meteorologist Karli Ritter said.

She says pollution builds up when there is not much wind and the air is stagnant. Things like pollution, emissions and every other thing that is released into the air has nowhere to go because it's not being blown away.

"I try to tell people, think of it like you have a dusty entertainment center and you blow on it to get all the dust off and it cleans it off. My mom would say use a rag, but whatever. You blow it off and it is gone. Same with our atmosphere. You need some wind to get it much cleaner," Ritter said.

To help mitigate the problem, she suggests carpooling, filling up your gas tank later in the evening, after 8 o'clock, avoid mowing, building fires or doing anything else that will release more emissions in the air.

"And just from a personal standpoint, don't go out and try to run a half marathon at 4:00 in the afternoon when the peak pollution of the day. We have gone through the rush hour, both morning and evening, pollution and emissions are going to be at the highest later in the day, and that is when you really want to avoid it," Ritter explained.

FOX4's weather team says this week will get progressively hotter, into the upper 90's with a heat index above that, but the good news is heat does not equate to poor air quality. Along with the heat will be stronger winds that should clean up the air.