Keeping Indoor Air Clean During Wildfires 

Wildfire smoke can carry long distances and persist for days. Breathing wildfire smoke is bad for your health, causing breathing problems and aggravating long-term conditions like high blood pressure. Children, people with chronic lung and heart conditions, and the elderly are at increased risk for health effects. While you can help protect yourself by staying indoors, when smoke lingers in an area, smoke particles can move into indoors air. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep your indoor air clean.  

  • If you have an HVAC system, run the air conditioner or fan to recirculate air through the filter. Use a high efficiency filter (rated MERV-13 or higher) and replace the filters as directed. Learn about your HVAC system and use the settings that will keep the fan running (“On” rather than “Auto”) and recirculate air without bringing in more outdoor air. If your system has a fresh air option, close the intake. If you have a window air conditioner, close the outdoor air damper, and make sure the seal between the air conditioner and window is tight.  
  • If you do not have an air conditioner, keep windows closed, and on hot days consider going to a public air-conditioned space or cooling center. Locate a cooling center near you by calling 2-1-1.   
  • Use a portable air cleaner. The best type uses a HEPA filter. Do not use a system with an ozonizer or ionizer unless you can turn it off. These settings can generate chemicals that irritate your lungs. If you can’t get a portable air cleaner, consider a DIY air cleaner.  
  • Create a clean air room. Sometimes it’s easier to try to keep the air in one room of a house clean rather than trying to keep the entire house’s air clean. If any members of your household are especially sensitive to smoke, they may benefit from a clean air room.  
  • Avoid household activities that pollute the air. Many normal household tasks, like cooking and cleaning, can temporarily generate airborne particles that can worsen indoor air quality. Do not fry food or use wood-burning stoves, gas stoves or furnaces, or propane. Do not clean with chemical cleaners. Avoid sweeping and vacuuming.