Wildfires and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ): Protecting Your Family’s Health

Wildfires continue to pose a significant threat to communities. It’s crucial to be aware of their far-reaching impacts, including indoor air quality (IAQ). Wildfire smoke is a complex mixture of gases and fine particles that can enter your home, making the indoor air unhealthy to breathe. Let’s consider some essential steps you can take to protect your family’s health during and after a wildfire smoke event.

How Does Wildfire Smoke Affect Indoor Air Quality?

Wildfire smoke can infiltrate your home through various routes, such as open windows and doors, mechanical ventilation devices, and small openings. The biggest health risk comes from fine particles present in the smoke, which can cause respiratory problems, burning eyes, runny nose, and exacerbate heart and lung conditions. It’s especially crucial to protect vulnerable groups, such as children, older adults, and individuals with pre-existing health issues.

Preparing for Wildfire Season

If you reside in an area with a high wildfire risk, taking preparatory measures is essential. Prepare for fire season by understanding evacuation protocols, monitoring local news and air quality websites, and having a supply of N95 respirator masks on hand. Consider purchasing a portable air cleaner or high-efficiency HVAC filter to improve IAQ during a smoke event.

Using Portable Air Cleaners

During a wildfire smoke event, using portable air cleaners can help reduce fine particles in indoor air. Choose one that matches the size of the room where it will be used, and avoid models that produce ozone. For those unable to obtain a portable air cleaner, DIY air cleaners can be created by attaching a high-efficiency filter to a box fan. While not a permanent alternative, they can serve as a temporary solution.

Adjusting HVAC Systems

Familiarize yourself with your HVAC system to optimize IAQ during a smoke event. For central HVAC systems with a fresh air intake, set it to recirculate mode or close the outdoor intake damper. Avoid using evaporative coolers during smoky conditions, as they can bring more smoke indoors. Window air conditioners should have their outdoor air damper closed and a tight seal between the unit and the window.

Reducing Exposure During a Smoke Event

When advised to stay indoors during smoky conditions, take measures to minimize smoke exposure. Keep windows and doors closed, use fans and air conditioning to stay cool, and reduce smoke infiltration. Avoid activities that generate fine particles indoors, such as smoking, using aerosol products, or cooking with gas stoves.

As wildfires continue to impact air quality and health, safeguarding your family’s well-being is paramount. Prioritizing indoor air quality is crucial to ensure a healthy and safe living environment during challenging wildfire seasons.

To rent affordable equipment for your next project, turn to Eco-Rental Solutions. Contact us today to get a quote!