wildfire smokeEach summer brings the increased risk of wildfire, and with it, unhealthy air. People with heart or respiratory conditions, children, and the elderly are most at risk for poor air quality created by wildfire smoke.

Poor air can irritate and damage lungs, especially for people who have congestive heart failure, chronic obstruction pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and other heart or breathing conditions. Exposure can also cause a fast heart rate, chest pain, trouble breathing, and asthma attacks.

Smoky air can affect you even if you’re not in a high-risk group. It can cause sore throat, headaches, runny nose, and fatigue.

Here are some steps you can take to stay healthy when the air quality is low. Don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns!

  • Check your local air quality reports. Air quality can change day to day. Find out the latest on your local news or government websites. Checking air quality daily will help you decide what level of activities you can complete outside.
  • Shut windows and doors to keep out the poor-quality air. Try to have the shades down during the day to keep your home or apartment cooler.
  • Keep in-home air clean. Vacuum the house. Don’t burn candles and don’t use the fireplace.
  • Use a freestanding indoor air filter that can remove harmful particles.
  • Avoid outdoor exercise. If the air quality is very poor, you might also want to limit exercise or strenuous activity inside.
  • Wearing a dust mask might not offer the protection you need, since most of them only keep out larger airborne particles like sawdust. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tips for different types of effective masks for wildfire smoke.