Breathing smoke from wildfires isn’t healthy for anyone, but some people are more likely to have health problems when the air quality isn’t good. The best ways to protect your health when air is smoky are to limit time outdoors and reduce physical activity.
For additional guidance for Schools, Child Care & Events: coming soon
Preparing for Wildfire Smoke - WA State Department of Health (PDF)
Wildfire Smoke: Staying Informed - Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (PDF)
People at risk for problems from wildfire smoke include:
- Children. Their lungs are still growing. They also breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults.
- Adults older than 65. They're more likely to have unknown heart or lung diseases.
- People with heart and lung diseases, such as asthma, COPD, and heart failure, and diabetes.
- People who have had a stroke or heart attack.
- Pregnant people. Both the pregnant person and fetus are at increased risk of health effects.
- People who smoke. They are more likely to have lower lung function and lung diseases.
- People with low socioeconomic status. They are more likely to have higher exposures and less likely to have access to health care.
- People who work or live outdoors.
When air is smoky, even healthy people can experience symptoms or health problems from breathing small smoke particles. Symptoms can range from minor irritation to life-threatening complications, including:
- Sore throat
- Burning eyes
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
What is the air quality right now?
For more information:
Prepare before wildfire smoke season
Here are things you can do now to prepare for smoky days with unhealthy air quality:
- If you or a family member has heart or lung diseases (including asthma), talk to your doctor and research precautions to take when air quality is unhealthy. Make sure you have necessary medications, and know how to manage symptoms and when to seek medical care.
- Ensure you have a way to keep your indoor air clean. Have fresh filters for your home’s central air unit, a box fan and filter with a MERV 13 rating to create a box fan filter, or a portable air cleaner with a HEPA filter.
- Make sure your vehicle has HEPA-equivalent air filter.
- If you have air conditioning in your home and vehicle, practice setting it to recirculate to avoid bringing smoky outdoor air inside.
- Create a plan for alternatives to outdoor activities. You may need to exercise indoors or find alternatives to outdoor summer activities if air quality is unhealthy.
- If you must be outside during smoky air, consider purchasing a respiratory mask labeled N95 or N100 and learn how to properly wear it.