REDDING, CA – JULY 30: Forest burns in the Carr Fire on July 30, 2018 west of Redding, California. Six people have died in the massive fire, which has burned over 100,000 acres and forced thousands to evacuate since it began on July 23. (Photo by Terray Sylvester/Getty Images).
Taken from the CDC: Wildfire smoke can irritate your lungs, cause inflammation, affect your immune system, and make you more prone to lung infections, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that cause COVID-19. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, preparing for wildfires might be a little different this year. Know how wildfire smoke can affect you and your loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic and what you can do to protect yourselves.
Take actions to protect yourself from wildfire smoke during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The best way to protect against the potentially harmful effects of wildfire smoke is to reduce your exposure to wildfire smoke, for example, by seeking cleaner air shelters and cleaner air spaces.
- Limit your outdoor exercise when it is smoky outside or choose lower-intensity activities to reduce your smoke exposure.
Keep in mind that while social distancing guidelines are in place, finding cleaner air might be harder if public facilities such as libraries, community centers, and shopping malls are closed or have limited their capacity.
Create a cleaner air space at home to protect yourself from wildfire smoke during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Use a portable air cleaner in one or more rooms. Portable air cleaners work best when run continuously with doors and windows closed.
- If you use a do-it-yourself box fan filtration unit, never leave it unattended.
- During periods of extreme heat, pay attention to temperature forecastsexternal icon and know how to stay safe in the heat.
- Whenever you can, use air conditioners, heat pumps, fans, and window shades to keep your cleaner air space comfortably cool on hot days.
- If you have a forced air system in your home, you may need to speak with a qualified heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professional about different filters (HEPA or MERV-13 or higher) and settings (“Recirculate” and “On” rather than “Auto”) you can use to reduce indoor smoke.
- Avoid activities that create more indoor and outdoor air pollution, such as frying foods, sweeping, vacuuming, and using gas-powered appliances.