Tips to protect yourself and your family from the risks of wildfire smoke


Each year it seems that the Wildfire season is getting longer and more extreme. Putting everyone in danger of wildfire smoke not just those living rurally. Being prepared and having a plan is important to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and ready in the event you are put in harms way. Below are some tips to help you prepare.

  1. Understand your susceptibility and listen to your body … 
  2. Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, People who have heart or lung diseases, like heart disease, lung disease, COPD, or asthma, are at higher risk from wildfire smoke.
  3. Older adults are more likely to be affected by smoke. This may be due to their increased risk of heart and lung diseases.
  4. Children are more likely to be affected by health threats from smoke. Children’s airways are still developing, and they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults. Also, children often spend more time outdoors engaged in activity and play.
  5. Pregnant women may be more likely to be affected by smoke because of physical changes during pregnancy, like increased breathing rates. Pregnant women affected by smoke may also be at risk for problems such as preterm birth and babies born with low birth weight
  • Take it easy. … 

Burning candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves can increase indoor pollution. Vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home, contributing to indoor pollution. Smoking also puts even more pollution into the air.

  • Use a portable air cleaner. … 

If you are advised to stay indoors. Keep windows and doors closed. Run an air conditioner, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside.

Portable air cleaners with HEPA filters can significantly reduce indoor PM 2.5 concentrations when used properly. Smaller units can be used to keep one room relatively clean as a place to seek relief when needed.

  • Seek comfortable spaces in the community. … 

Public places such as libraries, community centers and shopping malls often have large air filtration systems and relatively good indoor air quality.

  • Consider wearing a protective mask. … 

Do not rely on dust masks for protection. Paper “comfort” or “dust” masks commonly found at hardware stores are designed to trap large particles, such as sawdust. These masks will not protect your lungs from the small particles found in wildfire smoke. Read more on choosing and using respirators to protect your lungs from smoke and ash

  • Drink plenty of water. … 

Staying well-hydrated helps the kidneys and liver to remove toxins, which can reduce any systemic inflammation caused by wildfire smoke exposure.

  • Know where to find information and Stay alert for wildfire warnings.

Check local air quality reports. Listen and watch for news or health warnings about smoke. Find out if your community provides reports about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index (AQI) or check the AirNow fire and smoke map. Pay attention to public health messages about safety measures.


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