BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The “Check Before You Burn” program has begun, and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is encouraging people to help reduce harmful PM2.5 emissions.

The Residential Wood Smoke Reduction program runs from Nov. 1 through the end of February every year, protecting public health through the reduction of harmful particulate matter. During this time, the District releases a daily, wood-burning status for each county, based on the air quality forecast.

There are three burn status levels: burning discouraged, no burning unless registered, and no burning for all.

The District urges all valley residents to heat their homes by means other than burning wood whenever possible, as residential wood burning is one of the valley’s largest sources of wintertime PM2.5 emissions. These emissions are shown to have a direct effect on neighborhood air quality, especially when we have a high pressure weather system in place, trapping pollutants here in the valley.

Restrictions do not apply to natural gas devices, and residences in areas with no natural gas service or where wood burning is the sole source of heat are exempt. Areas where propane tanks are used are also considered to be without natural gas service.

Outdoor wood burning devices, such as outdoor fire pits and chimneys, at all residences cannot be registered and are still subject to daily restrictions, regardless of exemption status.

Daily burn information is available by visiting the District’s website, by calling 1-800-SMOG INFO (766-4463) or by downloading the free “Valley Air” app on your mobile device. In addition, residents are invited to sign up for daily wood-burning email notifications.

Jaime Holt from the District joined this segment of Weather Wednesday to talk more about the program. Watch the video in the player for more details.