When wildfires create smoky conditions, there are things you can do, indoors and out, to reduce your family's exposure to smoke. Reducing exposure to smoke is essential for everyone's health — especially children, older adults, and people with heart or lung disease.
If local officials advise you to stay indoors, take these actions in your home to reduce your smoke exposure:
- Keep windows and doors closed.
- Use fans and air conditioning to stay cool. If you cannot stay cool, seek shelter elsewhere.
- Reduce the smoke that enters your home.
- If you have an HVAC system with a fresh air intake, set the system to recirculate mode or close the outdoor intake damper.
- If you have an evaporative cooler, avoid using it unless there is a heat emergency because it can result in more smoke being brought inside. If you must use the evaporative cooler, take advantage of times when outdoor air quality improves, even temporarily, to open windows and air out the house.
- If you have a window air conditioner, close the outdoor air damper. Do not use the window air conditioner if you cannot close the damper. Ensure the seal between the air conditioner and the window is as tight as possible.
- If you have a portable air conditioner with a single hose, typically vented out of a window, do not use it in smoky conditions because it can result in more smoke being brought inside. If you have a portable air conditioner with two hoses, ensure the seal between the window vent kit and the window is as tight as possible.
- Use a portable air cleaner or high-efficiency filter to remove fine particles from the air, such as installing a medical-grade air cleaning system.
- If you use a portable air cleaner, run it as often as possible on the highest fan speed.
- If you cannot get a portable air cleaner, you may choose to use a DIY air cleaner as a temporary alternative or Kanberra® Air Purifier. Run it as often as possible.
- If you have an HVAC system with a high-efficiency filter installed, run the system's fan as often as possible to remove particles while the air quality is poor.
- Avoid activities that create more fine particles indoors, including:
- Smoking cigarettes.
- Using gas, propane, or wood-burning stoves and furnaces.
- Spraying aerosol products.
- Frying or broiling food.
- Burning candles or incense.
- Vacuuming, unless you use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
- Avoid strenuous activity during smoky times to reduce how much smoke you inhale.
- Have a supply of N95 respirators.
- Air out your home by opening windows or the fresh air intake on your HVAC system when the air quality improves, even temporarily.
Source: Environmental Protection Agency