California Wildfire Season: Protecting Your Health From Poor Air Quality
Elk Grove normally has good to moderate air quality. However, this can worsen when
California’s wildfire season rolls in, due to the winds blowing smoke into their
area. CapRadio reports that the greater Sacramento region ranks fourth in terms of the
number of homes at risk of damage from wildfires — but more widespread than the
damage to homes is how the resulting smoke can negatively affect people’s health.
SymptomFind, a website that helps people maintain their overall health with science-
backed guides, has spoken about how wildfire smoke can travel a long distance,
especially if the wind is strong. In one of their articles, they explain that the smoke is
dangerous because it’s made of gases and fine particles from burned wood and other
organic materials. You can end up feeling a burning sensation in your eyes or getting
a runny nose. The smoke can also trigger bronchitis and chronic heart and lung
diseases. As such, you’ll have to be vigilant in avoiding smoke inhalation.
Below are a few ways you can protect yourself from poor air quality:
Wear A Mask
Ideally, you need to avoid going outside when the air quality is poor. But if it’s
unavoidable, such as when buying medicine and essentials, it’s important to wear a
mask. This may sound familiar to you already due to the pandemic, however,
protecting yourself from wildfire smoke will require a high-filtration mask. Cloth
coverings and masks that don’t fit properly won’t suffice, as the fine particles will still
pass through the gaps in the mask. The best masks to protect yourself from smoke are
N95 and P99 respirator masks. So make sure you have plenty of them stored in your
house just in case the air quality takes a dramatic drop.
Control The Smoke That Enters Your House
Being indoors can significantly reduce your exposure to the smoke. But the polluted
air can still leak into your house. To prevent smoke from entering your house, and
controlling what’s already inside, keep windows and doors closed at all times. Then
use a portable air cleaner to remove the particles in the air. If you have an HVAC
system with fresh air intake, put the system in recirculate mode or close the outdoor
intake damper to prevent it from bringing in air from the outside. If the air quality
outside improves even temporarily, open your windows to let some fresh, clean air
into your house.
Avoid activities that also contribute to air pollution
Wildfire smoke doesn’t immediately disappear, so it’s best you don’t add to the poor
air quality problem — especially if you’re stuck at home, trying to reduce the
incoming bad air. According to Envirotech Online, some activities that can affect
indoor air quality are smoking, frying or boiling food, and using a wood-burning stove
or fireplace. Proper ventilation is important in these activities to disperse the
pollutants, so carry out any of the aforementioned task while you don’t have good air
circulation has the potential to compromise your own health.