Wildfire season is something that happens every year and has a huge impact on thousands of individuals.
Even if a wildfire isn’t directly affecting your home or your land, the smoke in the air can still be a problem for your health.
Wildfire smoke is so dense that it can spread for miles, and it’s important that you protect your lungs from this smoke so you don’t become ill.
Here are several easy ways for you and your family to stay safe this year.
1. Monitor Local Smoke Warnings
One of the easiest things you can do is monitor your local air quality and pay attention to any smoke warnings on the local news.
Even if your property is a few hundred miles away from the actual fire, the smoke can easily travel in your direction and cause your local air quality to deteriorate.
Be sure that you check AirNow.gov. This site provides free air quality monitoring each day.
2. Be Aware of Particles in the Air
With smoke comes particles.
These airborne particles come from the wood and surrounding environment that are being burned by a wildfire.
Many people think that if they can’t see smoke, then they are safe. This simply isn’t true. Only a thick cluster of smoke particles can be seen by the naked eye.
Smoke particles that have dispersed are microscopic and can’t ben seen. What’s worse is that these tiny particles can easily be breathed into your lung tissue and other organs.
Wildfire smoke causes all kinds of severe health problems, and it’s best to stay indoors and keep your windows shut to avoid breathing these contaminants in.
3. Use an Air Purifier to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
When the outside air quality is poor, you want your indoor air quality to be as clean as possible.
An easy way to do this is to purchase an air purifier and let it run in the rooms you that use the most.
Air purifiers are the only officially designed device to remove smoke particles from the air around you. They’re also excellent at eliminating other pollutants like dust, and allergens from your home’s indoor air and are up to 99.97% effective at cleaning the air you breathe.
These devices work by circulating the air inside a room through a series of filters. Bad particles like smoke get trapped, and clean air is pushed back into the room for you to breathe. Here are detailed reviews of the two best air purifiers for smoke.
4. Use an Air Conditioner to Circulate the Air
Although an air conditioner is not made to purify the air, the design does offer some air filtering qualities.
All air conditioners use a filter to trap dust and other particles from getting into the system and damaging it. Therefore, if you run this system when wildfire smoke is present outdoors, it can eliminate some of the particles that may have traveled inside your home.
As long as you keep your filters clean, it should help to reduce the amount of smoke particle matter in the air, but it really is no match for a dedicated air purifier.
If you can’t afford an air purifier right now or the electricity costs for running your home air conditioning system is a concern, you can always invest in a portable or window air conditioner. These inexpensive products don’t cost much to run and are a very affordable option for keeping your home cool while on a budget.
Window and portable air conditioners also include air filters, so they can help lower the number of smoke particles in your home when they’re running.
5. Consider Having a Particle Respirator Mask on Hand
You may think that slapping on a paper mask or a surgical mask is enough to protect you from smoke inhalation. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, and they aren’t an effective way to filter out particles in the air.
If you’re in a highly contaminated area due to wildfire smoke, and you need to be outdoors a lot, it’s best to get a particle respirator mask or an N95 respirator. This device fits tightly to your face and it can filter out up to 95% of particles as small as 0.03 microns.
6. Keep Your Home Airtight
You might be tempted to open the windows and let the air filter through your home, but this is a fast way to lower the quality of your indoor air.
This is especially true if you’re located in or near (100 miles or less) a burning wildfire.
To stay safe, keep your windows shut and limit the number of times you have to open or close outside access doors. Small steps like this can do a lot to help improve your indoor air quality.
7. Cleanup Carefully
If your property or home was directly affected by a wildfire, you might be impatient to get cleaning when it’s over.
However, you need to be very careful.
Debris can smolder for a few days after the fire in the correct conditions and still release airborne pollutants when you move them. Wear protective clothing, masks or respirators, and make sure the debris have fully died out.
8. Have an Escape Route
No one wants to imagine that a wildfire will happen in their area, but it’s important to have an escape plan and route in place just in case it does occur.
You can check your state’s emergency services office for information on shelters, insurance, and transportation options. If you have pets, have a plan in place to move them as well, and it’s a good idea to ask your local vet’s office if they have safe accommodations to shelter them temporarily.
9. Set up an Emergency Kit
Having an emergency kit on hand is another good idea when it comes to being prepared for a wildfire or disaster.
You want at least three days’ worth of food and water, first aid supplies, toiletries, batteries, flashlights, and copies of any important paperwork. If you can, pack a respirator or two as well so you can keep your lungs healthy.
10. Leave the Area
Finally, one of the safest ways how to protect yourself from smoke inhalation is to leave the area surrounding the wildfire.
As we mentioned before, smoke can travel hundreds of miles. However, even getting a few hours away can drastically improve your indoor and outside air quality.
If you do leave the area, make sure to monitor the local news and watch for the air quality to improve. Once it does, you can consider going back to your home.
As you can see, these tips are easy ways to protect yourself and your family from the dangers of smoke inhalation. Being prepared with an air purifier or respirator mask, as well as making an escape plan and having an emergency kit set up ahead of time are very important.
If you take these small steps, you’ll be able to stay healthy during wildfire season.