As wildfires blaze across Canada, smoke is filling the skies of the East Coast. Thankfully, the Pacific Northwest is currently unaffected by the Canadian fires and wildfires in Washington State seem to be minimal (at the moment). But it is just the start of the summer, and, if history is any guide, we could expect a wildfire smoke impacts across our own region soon.
Wildfire smoke has many negative health effects, ranging from a mild headache to bronchitis. To protect yourself from wildfire smoke keep these tips and tricks in mind:
You can track air quality across the region with https://fire.airnow.gov/. This map shows PM2.5 levels across the United States, as well as smoke plumes and active fires. Before heading out, you can check these maps to understand whether or not the air quality is safe for you that day.
If it is smoky, it is recommended to stay indoors and to try and keep indoor air clean. You can get an air purifier with a HEPA filter or make your own air filter fan with a MERV-13 filter. Follow this link for more information on how to build your own air filter fan: https://publichealthinsider.com/2021/07/16/public-health-crafters-corner-1-minute-diy-filter-fan/.
Lastly, if you must be outside on a smoky day, wear an N95 respirator to protect you from particulates. Respirators must have a good seal around your nose and mouth to be effective.
For more information on dealing with wildfire smoke, you can visit your local county or air agency website. In the Puget Sound region, refer to Puget Sound Clean Air Agency or the Washington State interagency smoke blog.