4 ways to protect yourself from wildfire smoke
In recent years, as wildfires have devastated communities around the world, one dangerous byproduct has received less attention: wildfire smoke. In the wake of a fire, heavy smoke envelops the surrounding areas, creating severe air pollution levels with serious health effects. That’s because the thick smoke fills the air with harmful particles, causing everything from coughing to long-term health conditions, such as lung and cardiac diseases.
If you live in or near an affected area, it’s difficult to protect yourself and your family completely from this pollution, but there are steps you can take to minimize the harmful effects.
1. Know your risk
The impact from wildfires goes far beyond the flames. Wildfire smoke can travel for many miles and pose a health threat. Just like people in wildfire zones are advised to create “defensible space” around their homes, it’s also crucial for people in proximity to wildfire areas to protect themselves from wildfire smoke.
Air quality is affected
Climate scientists and meteorologists have seen prevailing winds carrying wildfire smoke across the continent. As plumes rise to 20,000 feet and above, they get caught up in the jetstream — high-altitude currents that circuit air quickly from west to east. In the best-case scenario, pollutants don’t set off air-quality alerts, but instead create colorful sunsets; in the worst-case scenario, air quality can plummet to unhealthy levels.
Wildfire smoke is worse than other types
When a wildfire burns through a community, it consumes everything in its path. This includes all kinds of household materials, like rubber, plastics, metals and more. In the heat of the fire, these materials become tiny, airborne toxins. The fine particles then irritate people’s eyes and throats. They can also cause respiratory issues if taken into the lungs. Further, one study revealed that elderly people, children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to the particles released from wildfires.
2. Cut down on your exposure
Stay indoors if you can
If you must be outside, reduce strenuous exercise. Best is to stay indoors with the doors and windows closed: By doing so, you can reduce indoor pollutant levels by 50 percent. This is especially important for children, the elderly and those with heart or respiratory problems. Remember to keep your car windows shut, too.
Do air conditioners filter wildfire smoke?
While indoors during wildfire season, you can run an air conditioner, but it’s important to close down the outside air intake to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside. If the intake is open, the filter on commercial air conditioners will not catch dangerous particles from wildfire smoke.
Keep your indoor air clean
Also, avoid activities that can increase indoor air pollution. For example, if you’re cleaning your home, don’t use items likely to introduce extra chemicals into the air, like aerosol cleaning products. And avoid burning candles, using gas stoves and vacuuming.
3. Choose a mask carefully
Smaller particles are more dangerous
The hazardous particles in wildfire smoke come in various sizes, but the smallest are the most dangerous. Because they’re so tiny, they’re able to make their way deep into the lungs and bloodstream, causing everything from asthma attacks to cancer. In addition, the combination of different gases in smoke clouds can form surface-based ozone, which also can lead to health problems.
Respirator masks are best
A scarf or bandanna won’t filter out many pollutants. Probably no surprise there. But neither will dust masks designed to trap large particles, such as sawdust. More effective are respirator masks. Sold at many hardware and home repair stores, as well as pharmacies, they filter out fine particles. Look for masks labeled N95 or N100, which denotes, among other things, the percentage of particles that are blocked.
Choose a size that will fit over your nose and under your chin and create a tight seal over your face. At the same time, be aware there can be risks to wearing a mask, partly because they can make it difficult for wearers to get enough oxygen.
4.Use an air purifier
An air purifier for wildfire smoke
Air purifiers with a HEPA filter, like Coway Airmega’s smart air purifier, help to eliminate certain particulate matter and other pollutants from your home. It’s best to place the device in rooms where you spent a lot of time, like the bedroom or kitchen, to reduce the total amount of harmful air you inhale.
The Coway Airmega constantly monitors indoor air quality. When the unit senses a decrease in air quality, it automatically activates the air purification process and removes harmful particles. Even in the event of a distant wildfire, the Coway Airmega can provide safe, clean air for you and your family.
1Coway air purifiers has been proven to trap dust, pollen, dander, viruses and bacteria in the air based on KCL (Korea Conformity Laboratories) testing.They have been tested in a 30㎥ size chamber according to the Korea Air Cleaning Association standard (SPS-KACA 002-132:2022 Modified) to measure the 0.01㎛ size of particle removal rate. It was tested on maximum airflow speed in normal room temperature and humidity conditions. The performance may vary in the actual living environment of customers.
→ Tested with Airmega Aim, 150, 160, AP-1216L, AP-1512HH, AP-1512HHS, 200M, Icon, IconS, 230, 240, 250, 250 Art, 250S, 300, 300S, 400, 400S, ProX
299.97% of viruses, bacteria, fungi and pollen were verified to be removed from the air for Coway air purifiers which have Green True HEPA™ filter applied based on the Japan Food Research Laboratories(JFRL) testing according to JEM 1467 standard.
→ Tested with Coway Airmega AP-1512HH, AP-1512HHS, 250, 250 Art, 250S, 300, 300S, 400, 400S
→ All tested by JFRL and received above result within below time.
All tested by JFRL and received above result within below time.
- Virus: Tested with Escherichia coli phage ΦX174 NBRC 103405, 60 minutes
- Bacteria: Tested with Staphylococcus epidermidis NBRC 12993, 60 minutes
- Fungi/Mold: Tested with Penicillium citrinum NBRC 6352, 60 minutes
- Pollen: Tested with Cedar Pollen extract, 60 minutes
3Aerosol test conducted in a Biosafety level 3 laboratory with two Coway air purifier models, Coway Airmega 250 and 400 for removal of SARS-CoV-2 Aerosol by US based MRI Global, a not-for-profit laboratory and partner of US Department of Defense. The test was conducted in a 13.1ft3 chamber. Virus was aerosolized for 15 minutes and the product was turned on high for 2 minutes. Result showed each product effectively removed over 99.98% of the SARS-CoV-2 in 2 minutes. This is a result from a laboratory experiment condition and result may vary in different conditions. This result does not imply it kills SARS-CoV-2 or prevents the transmission of Covid-19. Coway Airmega 250S and 400S are identical to the tested models and has equal performance with an additional mobile connectivity function.
4The concentration of ammonia, acetaldehyde and acetic acid were proven to be removed within 30 minutes by FCG Research Institute, Inc. Human Life Science Lab. It is not a demonstration result in the actual use space. Not all odors and gases may be supported. → Tested with Coway Airmega 150, 160, AP-1512HH, AP-1512HHS, 400, 400S
5The coverage area of the air purifier is based on an area where the air cleaner can make two air changes per hour (ACPH). An air change per hour translates to how many times an air purifier can clean an area, assuming the height of a ceiling to be 8 ft, in one hour. Therefore ** means two air changes per hour means that the cleaner can clean the area once every 30 minutes and * means air changes per hour means that the air purifier can clean the area once every 60 minutes.
10Terms and conditions apply. Discounts, including promotions, coupons, and bundle pricing, cannot be stacked on top of other coupons. During promotional periods, discount codes will not be able to be applied to orders. Promo codes may apply to products only—filters, accessories, and new products within 3 months of the release date are not included.