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Reducing the Impact of Wildfire Smoke

May 14, 2024

When smoke from a wildfire (such as a forest fire or grassland fire) enters a community, it can cause problems for the people who live there. The biggest health risk comes from small particles in the smoke. These particles can get in your eyes, breathing (respiratory) system, and bloodstream. This can cause:

• Burning eyes

• A runny nose

• Coughing

• Trouble breathing or illnesses like bronchitis

If you have a heart or lung problem, these small particles can make it worse.

Who is most at risk for health problems from wildfire smoke?

You might have problems earlier and at lower smoke levels if you:

• Have heart or lung disease (such as congestive heart failure, angina, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, asthma)

• Are an older adult (especially if you have heart or lung disease)

• Are pregnant

• Smoke

• Are a child (smoke can be more harmful to children because their respiratory systems are still developing, they breathe in more air than adults, and they're more likely to be active outside)

• Do heavy outdoor work or outdoor sports

If smoke is a problem in your community, stay inside as much as possible and keep all windows and doors closed.

Here's what else you can do to keep your indoor air clean:

• Close fresh air intakes from furnaces, fireplaces, or stoves

• Turn on your air conditioning if you have it and set it to recirculate. Keep it running to help filter the air (Just remember that some air conditioning systems don't filter the air or improve indoor air quality.)

• If you have room air cleaners with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, turn them on. For portable air cleaners, follow all the manufacturer's instructions for changing the filter, where to place the device, and the size of area it's meant to be used in

• Check your furnace filter often. You may need to replace it more often than usual. Upgrade your furnace filters to the highest efficiency your ventilation system can handle. They may help lower the levels of smoke and particles in the air

• Use humidifiers, which might help remove some of the smoke. The humid air can also help keep your nose and mouth moist

• Don't use spray air fresheners or electric fragrance dispensers because they can affect air quality

• Use a hospital grade vacuum that won’t stirs up particles that are already inside premises


Watch our seasonal reminder below!

*This article is not meant to be taken as medical advice. Please follow the advice of your local health authorities when making decisions about your own health and the people around you.

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