8 Tips To Help Protect Yourself From Wildfire Smoke

With Portland placing in the No. 1 position for worst air quality among major cities in the world you may be wondering what you can do to help improve your home’s indoor air quality.  Breathing in smoke can affect you quickly causing a variety of symptoms including coughing, trouble breathing, wheezing, asthma attacks, stinging eyes, headaches, tiredness, chest pain, irritated sinuses, and/or a scratchy throat.  Here are 8 tips we have gathered for you to help protect yourself from wildfire smoke.  Most of which you can find on the EPA and CDC websites.

#1 Stay indoors and follow tips #2-8 to reduce your smoke exposure.

#2 Keep your home airtight.   Keep windows and doors closed to reduce the smoke that enters your home.  Seal any gaps or open spaces that allow unhealthy air to flow into the home.

#3 Use fans and air conditioning to stay cool. 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.

#4 Use a portable air cleaner or high-efficiency filter to remove fine particles from the air.  Here is a buyer’s guide of top 10 air purifiers for home use or you can make your own filter in a box fan or even better one with a charcoal filter.

  • If you use a portable air cleaner, run it as often as possible on the highest fan speed.
  • 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.
  • Don’t have the above?  Simmer a pot of water on the stove with cedar, fir, thyme, sage, or rosemary (or any combo of these).  The idea is that it will attach to the smoke particles pulling them to the ground to help clean the air and make it more breathable.  

#5 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. Instead, Dust or mop surfaces in the with a damp cloth as needed to keep settled particles from getting back into the air.

#6 Health experts advise to avoid strenuous activity during smoky times to reduce how much smoke you inhale which includes exercising indoors.

#7 Create a clean room. How Do I Set Up a Clean Room at Home?  

#8 Particles from smoke can damage or kill cells in the lungs, and this can lead to a compromised immune system.  For an added boost of health drink lots of water and create your own room spray (antibacterial, antiviral, or antimicrobial).  Learn how here.  See a medical professional if you are experiencing health complications.

Certified Indoor Environmental offers Indoor Air Quality testing.  Our technicians are certified and trained by the IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning, and Restoration Certification), the organization recognized for setting the highest standards for the cleaning and restoration industry.


CIE | Author – Lynette Schmidt, Business Development Manager | September 14, 2020

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