For those of us who live where wildfires don’t happen all that often, those air quality alerts caught us off-guard. Who knew that a wildfire could affect air quality for thousands of miles? The air was so thick and smoky that it blocked out the sun, and you could actually smell smoke. For those with breathing issues, it was a tough few days.
Since the wildfires in Canada had such an effect on the east coast, there has been a lot of buzz about air quality. People are wearing masks again; this time, a virus isn't the reason. There are also US Wildfire Smoke Maps where we can track the air quality daily.
Until recently, concerns about wildfires were not a big issue for areas far from the fire. However, now that we know how a fire thousands of miles away can affect us, how do we keep ourselves safe and healthy?
Wildfires are a huge environmental concern because they affect not only the area they are contained to but also the air quality, which can cause major issues with our health, not to mention plants and wildlife.
Nature is amazing, and it can be really scary. A few years ago, I actually saw a wildfire begin. A small spark, I assumed it was a cigarette butt, flew from the window of a car traveling in the opposite direction. It landed in a field that caught fire immediately.
Pulling over to call 911, I looked up to describe what was happening, and the entire area was already engulfed in gigantic orange flames with thick smoke billowing into the blue sky. This all happened within less than a minute before you could even smell smoke. It was spectacular, but not in a good way.
Smoke from a wildfire contains a mix of gases and fine particles, which are released into the atmosphere affecting everything in its path. That path can be quite lengthy, depending on weather conditions.
If there is an air quality alert, you don’t want that air inside your home. Make sure that all entry points of your house are closed. Run your air conditioner and make sure that the filter is clean.
The air in your home doesn't have a lot of places to go, so whatever comes inside gets recirculated. Every day you breathe in dust, allergens, and other microscopic bad boys that can cause many problems. Now, add some stagnant smoke that ventures inside from a wildfire thousands of miles away, and you've got a breathing issue waiting to happen.
An air purifier can clean the air in your home, greatly reduce breathing problems, and diminish the risk of respiratory illnesses. We carry a complete line with several different options and features to help you find the best air purifier for wildfire smoke.
We're all used to this by now. If there's one thing that COVID-19 taught us is that the use of masks made a big difference in the spread of the virus by filtering air particles that could be infected. Any mask is better than no mask, but the N95 and the KN95 filter both large and small particles for better overall protection.
Make sure that you have some in your medicine cabinet so they are there and ready when you need them. It's better to have a stash and never use them than to need them and not have a supply.
Listen to your local news or check the internet for air quality alerts and warnings in your area, especially during an active wildfire. Even if it is thousands of miles away, it could affect the air quality in your community.
You can also go online and check the US Wildfire Smoke Map to make sure the air quality in your area is safe.
When there is an active air quality alert, stay indoors as much as possible and limit outdoor activities. Keeping your exposure down will definitely help to keep your lungs healthy.
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Linda Guerrera is the Digital Content Manager for Health Products For You. As an award-winning media professional, she has spent her entire career as on on-air radio personality, program director, voice-over artist ...
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