Wildfire smoke? How to improve home air quality
Wildfire is becoming more frequent and more intense. Even when fires are burning hundreds of miles away from your home, you still experience the effects of smoke and poor air quality. It's important to know how you can protect yourself and loved ones from those effects.
Smoke can exacerbate existing breathing problems from asthma and allergies. Now, COVID-19 is a concerning factor too, as smoke worsens breathing symptoms.
There are steps you can take to improve the air quality in your home when wildfire smoke moves into your area.
Close your windows
It's important to limit the amount of smoke coming into your home. The best way to do that is to close all of the windows in your house. If you do this when you first detect the smoke in your neighborhood, you will have a better chance of improving the air quality in your home.
Some windows and doors are leakier than others, letting more air in from outside than they ought to. To keep wildfire smoke out, it's important to seal those leaks. (Plus, it's a good idea to seal them to save on energy from home heating and cooling.) You can install weather stripping or use caulking to seal the leaks.
Use an air purifier
Air purifiers use a fan and a filter to clean the existing air in your home. They can trap the particulate matter that is bothersome to lungs. This particulate matter along with other chemicals are part of the wildfire make up, and they are particularly bad for your health. You can change out the air filter as needed.
Avoid adding to the air pollution
Don't smoke inside your home, avoid burning foods through cooking, and avoid burning candles. Skip using spray aerosols, don't fry or broil meat, and don't burn wood in your fireplace. All of these things contribute to air pollution inside your home.
Wear a filtering mask
If you don't have an air purifier, you can wear a filter on your face: an N95 mask or a P100 respirator. Not all masks are capable of filtering the particulate matter from wildfire smoke, but these special masks can perform that task.
Houseplants naturally absorb chemicals from the air. It takes a lot of larger houseplants to make a noticeable difference when it comes to wildfire smoke, but you may already have houseplants in your home. You could consider adding a few more in combination with shutting all your windows. This will keep the smoke out, and the plants will purify the air that remains in your home.
Track air quality online
You need to know when wildfire smoke is too dense and damaging to your health. In that case, you need to leave your home and shelter elsewhere. You can monitor air quality and fires at the AirNow.gov site.
Consider allergy medication
Wildfire smoke often triggers allergic responses. Over-the-counter allergy medications can help alleviate some of these common symptoms. Medication shouldn't be used as an alternative to improving air quality, but it can help you feel more comfortable.
Once the wildfire smoke subsides, you can open your windows and air out your house. Good air quality is important for your health, your family's health, and the health of your pets. It's a good idea to use the above methods whenever air quality dips in your area.