Wildfires are currently ongoing in many areas of the west U.S and Canada, leading to exceptionally bad air quality across much of the west coast of both countries. With wildfire smoke leading to various health conditions, it’s vital to reiterate the importance of avoiding smoke inhalation.
Spokane Regional District Health (a city in eastern Washington) released a statement regarding wildfire smoke and air quality. Regardless of whether you are living in Washington or not, the advice applies to everyone impacted by worsening air conditions.
Following the EPA’s (environmental protection agency) AQI (air quality index), it is recommended all sensitive groups take steps to reduce their exposure at orange (the third tier of the AQI scale). This involves limiting time outside, avoiding strenuous outdoor activity, and improving indoor air quality.
Sensitive groups involve those with or recovering from COVID-19, individuals suffering from lung, respiratory, or heart conditions, and those younger than 18 and older than 65. On top of this, people who smoke, are pregnant, or with diabetes are also more at risk.
Once air quality surpasses orange, it is recommended that all people take the aforementioned steps to avoid wildfire smoke inhalation. Smoke can cause everything from coughing to stinging eyes to shortness of breath. Some individuals will feel the impacts of smoke exposure more than others.
Besides avoiding outdoor activities, it’s also important to wear a properly fitted respirator outdoors. However, stay inside with closed windows and doors and active filtration (through an HVAC system or air purifier) whenever possible.