Protect Yourself from Wildfire Smoke

Smoke from wildfires is very unhealthy. The mixture of gases and fine particles can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and worsen chronic health conditions. It is especially dangerous for children, older adults, and people with asthma, heart or lung disease.

To protect yourself and your family, limit exposure to smoky air as much as possible. Here are some of the recommendations from theOregon Health Authority:

  • Stay inside, close windows or use air conditioners with the intake closed. If you have them, run a high efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA), or an electro-static precipitator (ESP).
  • If you do not have air conditioning and it is too hot to stay indoors with the windows closed, find a clean-air space in your community, such as a library, shopping mall or community center.
  • Don’t use anything that burns, like candles or gas stoves.
  • Don’t smoke cigarettes indoors, which contributes to the already poor air quality.
  • Refrain from vacuuming or doing other activities that stir up dust.
  • Do not rely on masks for protection. Most non-medical grade masks won’t protect lungs from the fine particulates of wildfire smoke. Bandanas are equally ineffective.
  • Although respirators, like those labeled “NIOSH” and the rating of N95 or N100, can protect against smoke, they must be properly fitted by a trained professional, and are in scarce supply due to the coronavirus pandemic. Officials also have urged that these masks be reserved for medical and other frontline workers.
  • Asthma sufferers or those with other respiratory problems should follow their breathing management plans or talk to their doctors. Have an adequate supply of medication on hand (OHA recommends a five-day supply).
  • If you spend time in a vehicle, turn the air conditioning on recirculate.

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