Protect Your Family from Wildfire Smoke: Create a Clean Room
What is a clean room, and why do I need it?
Pollution can enter your home in many ways and for various reasons. Wildfire smoke is one of the most recurrent reasons in areas where wildfires are frequent. To prevent you and your family from breathing polluted air, creating a “clean room” is a common practice. While the entire household can benefit from spending time in a clean room, it will be especially beneficial for at-risk family members, such as people with heart or lung diseases or older adults and children.
A clean room will maintain smoke and other particle levels as low as possible. Keep the windows closed to prevent outdoor pollution ingress; ideally, this room should keep doors closed to prevent indoor pollution generated by cooking, cleaning, fireplaces, or candles from entering the room.
Remember, during a wildfire, a clean room should only be used if it is safe to stay indoors. If your region has issued an evacuation alert, it might be safer to seek shelter elsewhere. Stay tuned to the local news and updates to make the best decisions.
Steps to create a clean room
Choose a room: These rooms should be able to fit everyone in your household comfortably. Ideally, this room has an attached bathroom to isolate both rooms from the rest of the house.
Prevent smoke from entering the room: Close all windows and doors without making the room hard to escape. Limit the use of range hoods or exhaust fans.
Stay cool: Keep the room fresh and at a comfortable temperature by running air conditioners or fans. Turn off any system that pulls air from the outdoors (fresh air option) and close the intake. An evaporative cooler or portable air conditioner with a single hose could bring more smoke into the house; use them only in a heat emergency.
Air filtering: There are three main ways in which you can filter the air at home:
- Use a high-efficiency filter if your central heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can safely use one.
- Use a portable air cleaner in your clean room. You can choose one with a clean air delivery rate (CADR) for tobacco smoke at least 2/3 of the room area in square feet to ensure it is the correct size for the clean room. Check the List of Air Cleaning Devices certified by the California Air Resources Board
- Use a do-it-yourself (DIY) air purifier. Get the instructions on how to do it here!
*Note: The DIY air purifier is only an inexpensive and temporary option. EPA does not recommend the routine use of DIY air cleaners as a permanent alternative to products of known performance (such as commercially available portable air cleaners).
Avoid activities that generate indoor pollution: Such as smoking and using gas, propane, or wood-burning stoves and furnaces. Cooking and cleaning could also cause particle pollution, so avoid spraying products and frying or broiling food.
*Learn more about indoor air pollution here.
Spend time in the clean room: Get the most benefits from your clean room by spending as much time as possible on it. Avoid polluting it and let the fresh air in only when the air quality outside has improved, even if it is just temporarily.