No one wants to think about losing their home and belongings to a wildfire, but beyond the tangible damages, the smoke from a fire can have a serious impact to our air quality.* Turn to local authorities for direction on whether or not to leave your home—even if you’re not close enough to the fire to warrant an evacuation. Some simple steps can help minimize exposure to smoke for you and your loved ones.
Indoor Tip #1: Stay indoors
If you remain in the area, this is the most important thing you can do to limit yourself and your family from smoke exposure during a wildfire. Make sure all doors and windows are closed. Prior to the drier, warmer months when fires are prone to occur, it's not a bad idea to fix any cracks and leaks that may allow polluted air to seep into your home.
Indoor Tip #2: Be ready to relocate
If your home or apartment doesn’t have central air conditioning, keeping doors and windows closed may make your environment too uncomfortable to stay. Be prepared to move to a designated shelter, or spend the warmest hours of the day in an air-conditioned public building, such as a shopping mall or library.
Indoor Tip #3: Don’t create more air pollution
Even the most ordinary household items—candles, fireplaces, aerosol sprays—are a source of indoor pollution, so it’s best to refrain from using them during a wildfire emergency. You also should avoid frying or broiling meat, vacuuming, and smoking.
Indoor Tip #4: Designate a “clean” room
A space with few windows and no fireplace—such as a bedroom—can be a good place to hunker down when outdoor air quality is poor.
Indoor Tip #5 Make your air cleaner
Although you can’t control outdoor air quality, there are tools to help improve the air inside your home. Portable air purifiers, including Filtrete™ Room Air Purifiers, can be placed in specific rooms to help reduce particles in the air you breathe. Additionally, high-efficiency HVAC air filters, such as the Filtrete™ Smart Air Filter, are designed to capture microscopic particles, including smoke.
Outdoor Tip #1: Drive smart.
When driving during a wildfire emergency, close the windows and vents in your car, and run the air conditioner in recirculate mode. This is estimated to decrease pollutants in your vehicle by 20 to 34 percent.**
Outdoor Tip #2: Don’t overexert yourself.
The heavier you breathe, the more pollution your lungs will take in. Avoid activities that will increase smoke inhalation, such as exercising or mowing the lawn.
Outdoor Tip #3: Stock up on respirators.
If you must go outside when wildfire smoke is nearby, wearing an N95 respirator (such as 3M's 8110S, 8210, 8210Plus or 8511 respirators), which can help reduce your inhalation of airborne particles. These disposable particulate respirators have been approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, which tests and certifies respiratory protection levels.
Outdoor Tip #4: Consolidate errands.
Ideally, you should try to stock up on foods and medications that will last until the wildfire emergency passes. But if you must leave the house, do so at the least smoky times of day—check AirNow.gov to monitor your area—and consolidate necessary errands into one trip.
Outdoor Tip #5: Have a plan
During a wildfire, you may decide it’s best for you and your family to evacuate, or you may be told to leave by local authorities. If that’s the case be prepared with a plan, including evacuation routes, a safe place to stay and an emergency kit.