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Wildfires: 10 tips to breathe clean air

You can never be overly-prepared for wildfire season. Learn these 10 must-know tips to breathe clean air during fire season.

Summer wildfire season has returned and with it a new set of ferocious forest fires consuming the North American West Coast and countries abroad. In the communities between California to British Columbia, Washington to Montana, tens of thousands of people have been affected either by the fires directly or the resulting polluted air.

During this season, when forests are relatively hot and arid, wildfires easily ignite from cigarette butts and unattended campfires. Unsurprisingly, nearly 85% of wildfires are the result of preventable human activity.1

Though counter-intuitive, wet winters can also increase the risk of fire, as more new vegetation becomes more fuel for the flames.

Due to the potential size and magnitude of the fire, plumes of thick smoke can saturate the air with PM10 and PM2.5 particles as well as pieces of ash, causing a high risk for severe throat and eye irritations.


Click here to see a live map and information on wildfires in California


Top 10 recommendations for reducing your exposure to polluted air during a wildfire:

1. Seal your home: Close all windows and doors and seal any openings, such as vents and doggy-doors, to prevent polluted air from permeating inside.

2. Maximize time in clean air spaces: Stay indoors and reduce outdoor activity as much as possible.

3. Create a clean air sanctuary: Make sure air conditioning units are set to indoor air intake. Run a high-performance air purifier like the IQAir HealthPro® Plus.

4. Avoid sources of indoor air pollution: Refrain from vacuuming, burning candles, or smoking inside.

5. Have a plan: Make sure your family knows where the fire extinguisher is and rehearse your family's evacuation plan. Prepare an emergency kit with personal identification documents, medicines, and money.

6. Tune in to news reports: Listen to local reports for wildfire advisories. See if your neighborhood has a nearby air quality monitoring station and follow its readings with an Air Quality app. Set threshold notifications to know when you are.

7. Stay attuned to outdoor air quality changes: Pay attention to visibility and use visibility guides to check your environment.

8. Wear a pollution mask: If exposed to smoke, wear a particulate matter mask (KN95) like the IQAir Mask and protective clothing to prevent burns.

9. Keep hydrated: Prevent dehydration, eye, and throat irritations by drinking water.

10. Stay connected: Keep a mobile phone and two-way radios to communicate in case of emergency.

Article Resources

[1] Wildfire Causes and Evaluations (U.S. National Park Service). (2018, November 27).

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