Stay Safe, Stay Informed: Managing Wildfire Smoke

As we settle into wildfire season, the smoke from these fires is a growing concern for Idahoans, especially as fire seasons become longer and more intense. Understanding the health risks associated with wildfire smoke and preparing accordingly are important steps in protecting yourself and your loved ones, whether you’re indoors or outdoors.

Wildfire smoke contains harmful substances, including fine particles and toxic gases, which can penetrate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream, causing a range of health problems. To minimize exposure and protect health, implementing effective strategies is important.

  • Monitor Air Quality: Stay informed about air quality conditions using tools like the Air Quality Index (AQI) or your phone’s weather app. If authorities advise staying indoors, follow their guidance.
  • Keep Indoor Air Clean: When indoors, keep windows and doors closed to prevent smoke from entering. Use air conditioning with recirculation mode instead of evaporative coolers, which can bring smoke inside. Consider using portable air cleaners with high-efficiency filters to reduce indoor particle levels.
  • Reduce Indoor Air Pollution: Avoid activities that can increase indoor air pollution during smoky periods, such as smoking, using gas stoves, burning candles, or using aerosol products.
  • Create a Clean Room: Designate a room in your home with minimal indoor pollution sources to keep smoke and particle levels as low as possible during wildfire smoke events.
  • Use Respirator Masks: If you must go outside during smoky conditions, especially if you have pre-existing respiratory or heart conditions, wear a NIOSH-approved N95 respirator mask to filter out smoke particles.
  • Stay Informed and Proactive: Remain proactive by adjusting your activities based on air quality reports. Air out your home when air quality improves temporarily and be prepared to limit outdoor activities during periods of poor air quality.

By taking safety measures and staying informed, Idahoans can better manage the challenges presented by wildfire smoke and prioritize their health during fire season. Early preparation and proactive measures can significantly reduce the health risks associated with wildfire smoke exposure.

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