Staying Safe From Wildfire Smoke
Recently, the Department of Health reminded Washingtonians to stay indoors when there is smoke in the air. Officials said despite a mild season, the state Department of Health is reminding Washingtonians that it’s still wildfire season. People are encouraged to learn about the different ways people can protect loved ones from wildfire smoke.
Exposure to smoke from wildfires can be especially dangerous for people with pre-existing health conditions. According to the DOH, symptoms of smoke exposure – which can range from minor to severe – are burning eyes, coughing, throat and nose irritation, headache, fatigue, wheezing and shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat and chest pain.
The DOH strongly encourages the following steps to be prepared for wildfire smoke.
• Check current and forecast fire and smoke conditions on the Washington Smoke Blog, which monitors statewide air quality:.
A “partnership between state, county, and federal agencies and Indian tribes,” the Washington Smoke Blog features an up-to-date interactive map of smoke conditions and active wildfires throughout the state. The blog also keeps Washingtonians informed through various links that update “local smoke insights,” “fire news,” and “health news.” The blog is available at www.wasmoke.blogspot.com and a Spanish version of the blog is also available.
• Buy a portable HEPA air purifier, which will filter smoke and help create a cleaner air room to spend time in when there is smoke outside:
The DOH does not give a specific brand to buy, but rather gives information that helps Washingtonians create a “clean room,” which would keep a room large enough for everyone in the house from the effects of smoke from house fires. forest. The guide says a clean room in the house should have closed windows and doors, fans or air conditioning to stay cool, and have a way to filter the air in the room, along with other instructions for staying away from all smoke. The PDF is available at www.airnow.gov/sites/default/files/2022-02/how-to-create-a-clean-room-at-home.pdf.
• You can also make a DIY box fan filter as a lower cost option. It is essential to plan ahead and buy supplies in advance, as they often sell out quickly when there is smoke:
Also known as a “Corsi-Rosenthal Box Fan Filter”, a handmade air filter can be made using a new 20 inch by 20 inch box fan, MERV 13 filters or FPR 10 that match the dimensions of the box fan, a power drill, screws and brackets to hold it all together. The DOH refers to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency website with an instructional video and tips for building a home air cleaner. Additional research is encouraged before purchasing supplies, especially on MERV 13 or FPR 10 filters.
• It can be difficult to stay cool indoors when the windows are closed. Prepare yourself by learning how to cool indoor spaces without air conditioning:
Following the extreme heat wave in the Pacific Northwest in June 2021, a study was conducted on passive cooling techniques that offer ways to keep temperatures low in homes without using air conditioning. Simple ways to stay cool without air conditioning or open windows when there is smoke in the air limit the use of electronics, shading windows exposed to the sun throughout the day, shading windows once the sun is no longer hitting the windows and positioning portable fans at knee level or higher. It’s important to note that fans will only provide cooling when the air temperature is below 99 degrees Fahrenheit, or body temperature.