Indoor AQI During Wildfires
During an ongoing wildfire, the fire itself, the smoke and the ashes can affect your health. The outdoor air has higher than usual particulate matter concentrations making it unhealthy to breathe. This unhealthy air can also come inside houses and buildings, making the indoor air harmful to breathe.
When wood and other organic materials burn, a complex mixture of gases and fine particles forms smoke. These fine particles can easily get into your eyes and respiratory system, causing immediate and long-term negative effects on your health.
How does the outdoor air enter my home?
- Natural ventilation: through open windows and doors
- Mechanical ventilation: through bathrooms and kitchen fans or heating/ air conditioning systems that have a fresh air intake
- Infiltration: through small cracks and openings and around closed windows.
How do I keep indoor air healthy?
Depending on your situation, there are different ways to keep your family safe and have good indoor air quality.
Active wildfire near your area: It might be best to evacuate because it is extremely difficult to keep dense smoke from coming inside. If you find yourself in a situation where evacuation is not possible, you can also read this simple guide about steps to prepare yourself.
Active wildfire near your area but not directly threatening your home: The most important thing is to keep doors and windows closed to prevent outdoor air from coming indoors. It is also a good idea to have an air purifier. If you do not own one yet, here is a simple DIY project of a powerful yet budget-friendly option.
Smoke from a far-away wildfire has spread near your area: In some cases, smoke from a distant wildfire can spread to other communities. Most likely, the amount of smoke that may reach you is minimal and might also be overshadowed by the existing particle pollution concentrations in your area. In these cases is best to have an air quality sensor that helps you keep an eye on the AQI in real-time.