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How to Protect Yourself From Wildfire Smoke

How to Protect Yourself From Wildfire Smoke


When you do go outside, wear a high-quality, tightfitting mask, like an N95. A surgical mask is not sufficient to filter out the tiny, damaging particulates in wildfire smoke, Dr. Stowell said. And change clothes when you get home, Dr. Galiatsatos suggested, to avoid bringing in any smoke particles that could contaminate the air inside your house.

Make sure all the windows in your home are sealed tightly shut. Do not burn candles or smoke indoors, which creates more indoor air pollution, said Laura Corlin, an associate professor at Tufts University School of Medicine.

Air purifiers can help filter particles out of the air inside your home. People with respiratory conditions like asthma might benefit from an additional HEPA filter with the purifier, which can remove more particles from the air.

โ€œKnow who you are, and what your lungs need,โ€ Dr. Galiatsatos said.

If you donโ€™t have an air purifier, an air-conditioner can also help, with a few caveats. If you have a window air-conditioning unit, make sure the seal to the window is as tight as possible. If you have central air system that takes in air from outside, close the outside air damper, or switch the system to recirculate mode, Dr. Corlin suggested, so that it does not pull polluted air into your home.

If youโ€™re able, upgrade to a higher quality filter, like a MERV 13, which captures more particles.

If you do not have air-conditioning, you can use a fan to circulate air, and turn it on at the highest setting โ€” something is better than nothing, Dr. Corlin said. Your local health department may also run cooling centers. These air-conditioned public spaces can offer relief from the heat and protection against smoke, Dr. Stowell said. Even an air-conditioned space like a shopping mall may offer better air quality than a home without air-conditioning.



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