For most of us Southern California natives, we know that when September rolls around, it means school is starting, daily life routines adjust, and that the environment is at most risk for fires. With the fires throughout the west coast messing with our air quality, local officials have advised us to stay indoors as much as possible. You should be aware that some of the smoke from outdoors can enter your home and make it unhealthy to breathe indoor air, too. Check out our tips below on how to maintain healthy air quality inside your home.
Keep Windows, Doors and Vents Closed
Outdoor air, including fine particles from wildfire smoke, can enter your home in a few ways: through open windows and doors, which is known as natural ventilation, through mechanical ventilation devices such as bathroom or kitchen fans that vent to the outdoors, or heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems with a fresh air intake, and through small openings, joints, cracks, and around closed windows and doors through a process called infiltration.
Purchase or use an Air Purifier
Use a portable air cleaner or high efficient filter in your air ducts to remove fine particles from the air. If you use the portable air cleaner, run it as often as possible with the highest fan speed. If you have an HVAC system, run the system’s fan as often as possible to remove particles while the air quality is poor.
Purchase or use a Humidifier
Purchase a humidifier to keep the air quality at a healthy moisture level since air purifiers are notorious for drying out the air.
Avoid Activities That Create Fine Particles Indoors
Avoid using gas, propane or wood-burning stoves and furnaces, spraying aerosol products, frying food, burning candles or incense. The fine particles cause your air purifiers to work harder and your lungs to work harder. It is important to keep your home a safe space.
Clean up Ash
When the smoke clears, you may need to clean up ash or other debris left by the fires. Children, older adults, or people with heart and lung diseases should refrain from clean up work. It may irritate your eyes, nose, and skin that could cause coughing and other health effects. When cleaning, wear gloves, long-sleeved shirts and pants, shoes, socks, goggles, and an N95 respirator to protect your lungs. Make sure to clean the ask with a DAMP towel instead of a dry vacuum as that can spread the ash.