Steps you can take now to prepare for wildfire smoke

A red sunrise, taken from the Edmonds side of Lake Ballinger in 2017, caused by smoke coming from British Columbia wildfires.  (File photo)

Washington state is in the midst of wildfire season and, although it’s been a mild season to date, it is important to be prepared and ready to protect yourself and your family from wildfire smoke before the smoke hits.

When it does get smoky outside, the best way to protect everyone, including pets, is to stay inside and keep indoor air as clean as possible.

Steps you can take now to be smoke ready:

– Check current and forecasted wildfire and smoke conditions on the Washington Smoke blog, which monitors air quality across the state.

– Buy a HEPA portable air cleaner, which will filter out smoke and help create a cleaner air room you can spend time in when it’s smoky outside. You can also make a DIY box fan filter as a lower cost option. It’s key to plan ahead and buy supplies in advance because they often sell out quickly when it’s smoky out.

– It can be difficult to stay cool inside when windows are closed. Be prepared by learning how to cool indoor spaces without air conditioning.

Exposure to smoke from fires can cause several health problems that range from minor to severe. The worst symptoms often occur in people with pre-existing health conditions, but smoke is unhealthy for everyone. Symptoms include burning eyes, coughing, throat and nose irritation, headaches, fatigue, wheezing and shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, and chest pain.

Check for restrictions or warnings before lighting any outdoor fires. High temperatures and dry conditions increase wildfire risk.

For more information on how to protect yourself and those around you during wildfire smoke events, visit DOH’s Smoke From Fires webpage.


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