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Wildfire Smoke: What You Should Know

Posted on July 10, 2012
by Wendy Stackhouse

Did you know that the smoke from the wildfire in Colorado can be seen from space?

See all that nasty gray on the right? Smoke.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that wildfire smoke travels well and smoke from the fires in the US has traveled as far as Greenland already.

Smoke can play a role in the weather by reflecting sunlight and affecting cloud formation, but it can also damage your health.

In Southern California, the home of the AirTek corporate offices, we also often have to deal with the consequences of wildfires and a few years ago the air was so bad where I worked, we could barely see the other end of the campus. And we coughed an awful lot.

You can’t do much to get rid of wildfire smoke–the work of brave firefighters and nature will do that for you eventually. But here are some tips for dealing with wildfire smoke if it makes it into your environment:

  • Monitor the news for air quality reports–Try to find your area’s Air Quality Index (AQI), which is a good gauge of what you should do or not do. Table of AQI and recommended activities. In the Bay Area, Follow @SparetheAir for AQI numbers and activity recommendations.
  • Observe the visibility–Wildfire smoke is highly visible and how far you can see can be another good way to tell the safety level of outside activities.
  • Follow your gut–If it looks smoky outside, it’s probably better to stay in and keep the kids in, too!
  • Use the air conditioner–But keep the outside intakes closed and make sure your filters are clean. Recirculate the inside air rather than letting outside air in.
  • Don’t vacuum, use a gas stove, fireplace or burn candles inside. You will only add to the pollution in your indoor air.

Particulate Respirator mask

If the smoke gets dangerous, you will probably be evacuated. If you cannot leave, it is recommended that you use a Particulate Respirator type of face mask to breathe. This is a mask with two straps that traps the particles of soot that you could be breathing in. An ordinary one-strap mask is not sufficient and might lead you to think you are safe when you are not.

It is probably a good idea to have particulate respirator masks in your emergency kit if you live in a wildfire area.

We at AirTek are sure that you join us in hoping that the wildfires in Colorado are under control soon and that the remainder of wildfire season doesn’t hit anyone else too hard.

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek Indoor Air Solutions and our affiliate Alliance Environmental Group. We welcome your comments! For more news and tips or to ask questions of our experts, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter! For updates on environmental services like mold remediation, lead removal and pest control including bed bugs, Like us at Alliance Environmental on Facebook or follow Alliance on Twitter!

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