When wildfires create smoky conditions, there are things you can do, indoors and out, to reduce your exposure to smoke. Reducing exposure is essential for everyone’s health — especially children, older adults, and people with heart or lung disease.
Reduce smoke exposure indoors.
Stay inside with the doors and windows closed. Whether you have a central air conditioning system or a room unit, use high-efficiency filters to capture fine particles from smoke.
- Seek shelter elsewhere if you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed.
- Do not add to indoor air pollution. Do not burn candles or use gas, propane, woodburning stoves, fireplaces, or aerosol sprays.
- Use a portable air cleaner to reduce indoor air pollution. Ensure it is sized for the room and does not make ozone a harmful air pollutant.
Create a “clean room” in your home. Choose a room with no fireplace and as few windows and doors as possible, such as a bedroom. Use a portable air cleaner in the room.
- Have a supply of N95 respirators and learn how to use them.
Reduce smoke exposure Outdoors.
Take it easier during smoky times to reduce how much smoke you inhale. If it looks or smells smoky outside, avoid strenuous activities such as mowing the lawn or going for a run.
- Know your air quality. Smoke levels can change a lot during the day, so wait until the air quality is better before you are active outdoors. Check your state or local air quality agency’s website or airnow.gov for air quality forecasts and current air quality conditions.
Have enough food and medication on hand to last several days so you don’t have to go out for supplies.
Reduce smoke in your vehicle by closing the windows and vents and running the air conditioner in recirculate mode. Slow down when you drive in smoky conditions.
- Do not rely on dust masks or bandanas for protection from smoke. If you must be out in smoky conditions, an N95 respirator can protect you, if it fits snugly to your face and is worn properly.
- Have a plan to evacuate. Know how you will get alerts and health warnings, including air quality reports and public service announcements (PSAs). Know your evacuation routes, organize your important items ahead of time, and know where to go in case you must evacuate.