When Smoke is in the Air

 

Use the Fire and Smoke Map to Monitor Conditions

Smoke levels can change quickly and significantly during the day. Using the Fire and Smoke Map and understanding the Air Quality Index can help you plan your activities when smoke is in the air.

 

computer showing AirNow Fire and Smoke Map

Track Changing Air Quality Conditions

Visit the Fire and Smoke Map at fire.airnow.gov. Enter your ZIP code to see the latest localized air quality conditions, fire locations and activity recommendations. Smoke forecast outlooks may also be available for your area.

 

 
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Understand the AQI

The AQI is divided into six categories. Each category corresponds to a different level of health concern, and has a specific color, to make it easy for you to find out whether air quality is reaching unhealthy levels in your community.

 

AQI color chart


 

Reduce Exposure Outdoors

Take it easier when smoke is in the air to reduce how much smoke you inhale. Limit your outdoor exercise when it is smoky, or choose lower-intensity activities to reduce your smoke exposure. When indoors, take steps to keep your indoor air cool and clean.

 

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Check your air quality.

Check your air quality. Smoke levels can change a lot during the day, so wait until air quality is better before you are active outdoors.
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Choose a mask that will help protect you from smoke.

It is important to know that cloth masks will not protect you from wildfire smoke. N95 respirator masks can provide protection from wildfire smoke.
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Take it easier!

Take it easier during smoky times to reduce how much smoke you inhale. If it looks or smells smoky outside, avoid strenuous activities such as mowing the lawn or going for a run.
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Reschedule outdoor work tasks.

Reschedule outdoor work tasks and activities to a time when air quality improves. If outdoor tasks and activities cannot be rescheduled and must be conducted when air quality is poor, it is recommended that individuals reduce smoke inhalation by:
  • Limiting the time spent outdoors by only performing essential activities.
  • Taking frequent breaks indoors in places where the air is clean, especially during periods with high outdoor levels of wildfire smoke.
  • If you must work outdoors, wear a N95 respirator mask.
Note: Some areas may have regulations to reduce smoke exposure for outdoor workers.

 


Reduce Exposure Indoors

 

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Use your clean air room.

Clean air rooms can help reduce your exposure to smoke while staying indoors. Spend as much time as possible in the clean room to get the most benefit from it. The information below explains how to use your clean air room to stay cool and filter indoor air during a smoke event.
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Keep your clean air space cool.

Whenever you can, use air conditioners, heat pumps, fans, and window shades to keep your clean air space comfortably cool on hot days. During periods of extreme heat, pay attention to temperature forecasts, and know how to stay safe in the heat. If you can't stay cool at home, seek relief at a clean air shelter, other large building with air conditioning and good filtration, or with friends or family.
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Use a portable air cleaner.

If you have access to one, 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 can't get a portable air cleaner, you can also use a DIY Air Cleaner to reduce wildfire smoke indoors.
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If you have central air, run your HVAC system.

If you have a central air system in your home, use it to filter the air. Use high-efficiency filters (rated MERV-13 or higher) and replace the filters frequently. Learn about your system and use the appropriate settings (“Recirculate” and “On” rather than “Auto”). If your system has a fresh air option, close the intake.
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Avoid activities that create pollution.

Avoid activities that create more air pollution, such as frying foods, sweeping, vacuuming, and using gas, propane, or wood-burning stoves and furnaces.

 

If you use an older model do-it-yourself box fan air cleaner, never leave it unattended. Learn more about DIY Air Cleaners.
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Know What to Do if You Must Evacuate