Protecting Your Indoor Air Quality During a Wildfire Event

As wildfires continue to pose a significant threat in many parts of the world, it’s crucial to prioritize the safety and well-being of ourselves and our loved ones. While most discussions revolve around staying safe outdoors, it’s equally important to take measures to maintain good indoor air quality when wildfires are nearby. Remember, the health and well-being of your loved ones should always be your top priority. Here are six effective strategies to help you keep your indoor air safe during a wildfire event.

ONE – Stay Informed

Stay updated on local weather conditions, air quality indexes, and evacuation orders through reliable sources such as local authorities and weather agencies. When the air quality outdoors is poor enough it can be a risk to your health to be subject to it. Stay up to date with your local AQI during wildfire events to determine when it is safest to go outside. During these events it is prudent to limit exposure and only go outdoors when necessary. Early awareness will give you a head start in preparing your indoor environment. You can use the EPA’s Air Now website, or use the weather app on your phone to check your local AQI.

TWO- Create a Sealed Environment

When wildfire smoke is present, it’s essential to seal your indoor environment as much as possible to prevent outdoor pollutants from infiltrating your home. Close all windows, doors, and vents to minimize the entry of smoke and ash. Use weather-stripping and seal any gaps or cracks around windows and doors to further enhance the airtightness of your space. Be sure to avoid use of ventilation fans in your home such as the vent fan in your bathroom as well as the exhaust fan above your stove.

THREE- Use Air Purifiers

Invest in high-quality air purifiers equipped with HEPA or MERV rating ≥13 filters. These filters are designed to trap tiny particles, including smoke and ash, and effectively improve indoor air quality. Place air purifiers in commonly used rooms, such as bedrooms and living areas, for maximum effectiveness. If you do not have an air purifier, a DIY model can be easily constructed using a box fan and a high-quality air filter, preferably a MERV 13 or better.  For instructions on how to construct your own DIY air purifier (click here). Remember to regularly clean and replace filters as recommended by the manufacturer.

FOUR – Maintain Indoor Air Circulation

While sealing your indoor environment is crucial, it’s equally important to maintain proper air circulation. Run ceiling fans or portable fans to keep the air moving within your home. This helps to prevent stagnant air and allows the air purifiers to effectively clean the indoor air.

FIVE – Avoid Activities that Generate Airborne Particles

During a wildfire event, it’s advisable to minimize activities that can contribute to indoor air pollution. Avoid smoking indoors, burning candles or incense, and using gas-powered appliances or stoves, as much as possible as these can release harmful pollutants into the air. Choose electric alternatives whenever you are able.

SIX – Maintain a Clean Indoor Environment

Regularly clean your home to minimize the buildup of dust and pollutants that can accumulate. Vacuum carpets, sweep floors, and dust surfaces frequently to reduce the presence of allergens and particles that may have entered your home. Consider using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter for better air quality. Maintaining a clean living space while your outdoor air is unsustainable will help to keep your air clear of avoidable irritants.

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