Smoke

PREPARE

Before a Wildfire

• If any family member has heart or lung disease, including asthma, check with your doctor about what you should do during smoke events. Have a plan to manage your condition.
• Stock up so you don’t have to go out when it’s smoky. Have several days of medications on hand. Buy groceries that do not need to be refrigerated or cooked because cooking can add to indoor air pollution.
• Create a “clean room” in your home. Choose a room with no fireplace and as few windows and doors as possible, such as a bedroom. Use a portable air cleaner in the room.
• Buy a portable air cleaner before there is a smoke event. Make sure it has high efficiency HEPA filters and it is the right size for the room.
• Know how you will get alerts and health warnings, including air quality reports, public service announcements (PSAs), and social media warning you about high fire risk or an active fire.
• Ask an air conditioning professional what kind of high efficiency filters to use in your home’s system and how to close the fresh-air intake if your central air system or room air conditioner has one.
• Have a supply of N95 respirators and learn how to use them. They are sold at many home improvement stores and online.
• Organize your important items ahead of time, including financial and personal documents. Know your evacuation routes and where to go if you have to evacuate. Make sure to prepare your children, and consider your pets when making an evacuation plan.

During a Wildfire

• Follow instructions from local officials to keep yourself and your family safe.
• Stay inside with the doors and windows closed. Run your air conditioner with the fresh-air intake closed (“recirculate mode”) to keep smoke from getting indoors. Seek shelter elsewhere if you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed.
• Follow your health care provider’s advice if you have heart or lung disease, and follow your management plan if you have one. If your symptoms worsen, reduce your exposure to smoke and contact your provider.
• Do not add to indoor air pollution. Do not burn candles or use gas, propane, wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, or aerosol sprays. Do not fry or broil meat, smoke tobacco products, or vacuum. All of these can increase air pollution indoors.
• Use a portable air cleaner to reduce indoor air pollution. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on where to put the air cleaner and when to replace the filters.

 

REDUCE YOUR SMOKE EXPOSURE

When wildfires create smoky conditions, there are things you can do, indoors and out, to reduce your exposure to smoke. Reducing exposure is important for everyone’s health — especially children, older adults, and people with heart or lung disease.

Reduce Smoke Exposure Indoors

• Stay inside with the doors and windows closed. Whether you have a central air conditioning system or a room unit, use high efficiency filters to capture fine particles from smoke. Ask an air conditioning professional what type of high efficiency filter your air conditioner can accept.
• Seek shelter elsewhere if you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed.
• Do not add to indoor air pollution. Do not burn candles or use gas, propane, wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, or aerosol sprays. Do not fry or broil meat, smoke tobacco products, or vacuum. All of these can increase air pollution indoors.
• Use a portable air cleaner to reduce indoor air pollution. Make sure it is sized for the room and that it does not make ozone, which is a harmful air pollutant. Portable air cleaners can be used along with efficient central air systems with efficient filters to maximize the reduction of indoor particles.
• Create a “clean room” in your home. Choose a room with no fireplace and as few windows and doors as possible, such as a bedroom. Use a portable air cleaner in the room.
• Have a supply of N95 respirators and learn how to use them. They are sold at many home improvement stores and online.
• Long-term smoke events usually have periods when the air is better. When air quality improves, even temporarily, air out your home to reduce indoor air pollution.

Reduce Smoke Exposure Outdoors

• Take it easier during smoky times to reduce how much smoke you inhale. If it looks or smells smoky outside, avoid strenuous activities such as mowing the lawn or going for a run.
• Know your air quality. Smoke levels can change a lot during the day, so wait until air quality is better before you are active outdoors. Check your state or local air quality agency’s website or airnow.gov for air quality forecasts and current air quality conditions. On AirNow, you can also sign up to get email notifications, download an air quality app, or check current fire conditions. In addition, some communities have visual range programs where you can assess smoke conditions by how far you can see.
• Have enough food and medication on hand to last several days so you don’t have to go out for supplies. If you must go out, avoid the smokiest times of day.
• Reduce smoke in your vehicle by closing the windows and vents and running the air conditioner in recirculate
mode. Slow down when you drive in smoky conditions.
• Do not rely on dust masks or bandanas for protection from smoke. If you must be out in smoky conditions, an N95 respirator can protect you, if it fits snugly to your face and is worn properly.
• Have a plan to evacuate. Know how you will get alerts and health warnings, including air quality reports and public service announcements (PSAs). Public advisories can provide important information such as changing smoke conditions and evacuation notices. Know your evacuation routes, organize your important items ahead of time, and know where to go in case you have to evacuate.

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