During wildfires, smoke can turn your environment into a breathing nightmare. When forest fires approach urban areas and become a concern to communities, especially to smoke sensitive areas, there are still things that can be done to help you minimize smoke's effects. The following "helps" from the U.S. Forest Service will let you plan what to do and what not to do during conditions where smoke is a threat to community health.
Time Required: Time varies and is enhanced with advanced planning.
- Children, seniors and people with chronic respiratory problems should stay indoors.
- Keep windows closed. Run air conditioner inside the house and car. Air conditioners filter out dust and particles.
- If this is not a possibility, it's recommended to stay with a friend or relative who has one.
- Reduce physical activities. This will lower the dose of inhaled pollutants and minimize health risks during a smoke event.
- Reduce other sources of indoor air pollution. Burning cigarettes, gas, propane and wood burning stoves and furnaces and activities such as cooking, burning candles and incense and vacuuming can greatly increase the particle levels in a home and should be avoided when wildfire smoke is present.
- Room air cleaners are good to have during smoke emergencies. Make sure that it is a true air cleaner and not a humidifier. If you choose to purchase one, do so before a smoke emergency occurs to avoid having to go to the store and breathing the smoke.
- Wearing air masks and bandanas are not recommended. Masks and bandanas provide little, if any protection. They are uncomfortable and may make breathing difficult.