If you need to go outside during a wildfire, you will want to lessen the contaminants in the air you are breathing from smoke. Here are some things to consider.
Wildfire smoke may irritate your eyes and respiratory system, while worsening chronic heart and lung conditions. So, how do you know what protective gear to get? Understanding the key differences between masks and respirators is a good start.
Masks are not equipped to provide respiratory protection. Proper respiratory protection from particles in wildfire air comes with the ability to filter very fine particles - those so small you can't see them - and provide a tight seal around your face, when selected and used properly.
Respirators, with a N95 filter, have the ability to filter particulates, while masks do not. However, N95 respirators should NOT be used by the general public for protection in wildfires against chemical vapors, gases, carbon monoxide, gasoline, asbestos, lead or low oxygen environments.
Wearing an N95 disposable respirator outside could help reduce the amount of airborne particles you breathe. These type of respirators, including 8511, 9205+, 8210Plus, 8210, 8200 and respirators from 3M, are intended to fit over the nose and mouth, and can filter 95 percent of smoke particles when properly fitted. Look for them at home improvement centers. Keep in mind, respirators do not filter toxic gases, carbon monoxide or vapors.