When wildfires create smoky conditions it’s important for everyone to reduce their exposure to smoke. Wildfire smoke irritates your eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. It can make it hard to breathe and make you cough or wheeze. Children and people with asthma, COPD, heart disease, or who are pregnant need to be especially careful about breathing wildfire smoke.
- Keep smoke outside. Choose a room you can close off from outside air. Set up a portable air cleaner or a filter to keep the air in this room clean even when it’s smoky in the rest of the building and outdoors. If you use a do-it-yourself box fan filtration unit, never leave it unattended.
- Reduce your smoke exposure by wearing a respirator [PDF – 329 KB]. A respirator is a mask that fits tightly to your face to filter out smoke before you breathe it in. You must wear the right respirator and wear it correctly [PDF – 2.7 MB]. NIOSH has not approved respirators for children. If you have heart or lung disease ask your doctor if it is safe for you to wear a respirator.
- Avoid using candles, gas, propane, wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, or aerosol sprays and don’t fry or broil meat, smoke tobacco products, or vacuum.
- If you have a central air conditioning system, use high efficiency filters to capture fine particles from smoke. If your system has a fresh air intake, set the system to recirculate mode or close the outdoor intake damper.
- Pets and other animals can be affected by wildfire smoke too. Learn how to protect pets and livestock. Some evacuation centers do not accept animals. Check Petfinder’s Shelter Center or RedRover for information on local animal shelters and rescue groups.