Wildfire smoke is a mix of gases and fine particles from burning trees and plants, buildings, and other material. It can cause irritation to the respiratory system, putting people vulnerable to smoke — including those with asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), heart disease, children, pregnant people, older adults, and outdoor workers — at risk from getting sick.
How to reduce risk from wildfire smoke
Inform your community about these actionable steps they can take to minimize the respiratory effects of wildfire smoke.
- Check the Air Quality index or Air Now Fire and Smoke Map to make informed decisions about daily activities.
- If air quality is compromised outside, seek cleaner air spaces inside.
- Use air conditioners, heat pumps, fans and window shades to keep air space comfortably cool on hot days. Try not to use equipment that circulates in air from the outside.
- Limit outdoor exercise when it is smoky outside or choose lower-intensity activities to reduce smoke exposure.
- Use an N95 respirator for protection from wildfire smoke.
- Ask healthcare providers to recommend protections against wildfire smoke. Stock up on medicine and essential supplies to minimize outdoor shopping trips. Use home delivery if possible.
Resources to help your community prepare for wildfire smoke events
The Environmental Protection Agency provides a Smoke Ready toolbox to help your community be better prepared for wildfire smoke. Additional tools include:
- Air Quality Forecast Guidance. The smoke forecast tool from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
- InciWeb. Provides you with the location of wildfires in your area.
- Wildfire Smoke: A Guide for Public Health Officials. Helps you to prepare for smoke events, take measures to protect the public when smoke is present, and communicate with the public about wildfire smoke and health.
Prevent wildfires: actions that your community can take
It is important that we all help to reduce the incidence of wildfire events and the smoke they emit. Inform your community about how to prevent accidental ignitions and create safer communities by taking simple and often low cost actions to reduce the potential for homes to ignite during a wildfire.
For more information
The U.S. Fire Administration provides information and resources to help communities work together to be more resilient from wildfire events. Learn more about how your community can work together to become fire adapted.
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