Reducing Smoke Exposure

Wildfire smoke includes particles from not only burning trees and grasses but also chemicals from buildings mixed with gases. So if your eyes feel like they’re stinging, smoke exposure could also be inflicting other damage as particles could be getting into your respiratory system.

Keep indoor air as clean as possible by keeping windows and doors shut. Air conditioners that re-circulate air within the home can help filter out harmful particles.

Avoid using air conditioning units that only draw in outside air or that do not have a re-circulating option. Check air conditioner filters and replace them regularly. Indoor air filtration devices with HEPA filters can reduce the level of particles that circulate indoors.

Take steps to decrease your risk from wildfire smoke:

  • Check local air quality reports. Listen and watch for news or health warnings about smoke. Find out if your community provides reports about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index (AQI) or check the report at
  • Keep indoor air as clean as possible if you are advised to stay indoors. Keep windows and doors closed. Run an air conditioner, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside. If you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed, seek shelter in a designated evacuation center or away from the affected area. Learn more about reducing your smoke exposure indoors
  • Follow the advice of your doctor or other healthcare provider about medicines and about your respiratory management plan if you have asthma or another lung disease. Consider evacuating if you are having trouble breathing. Call your doctor for advice if your symptoms worsen
  • Do not rely on dust masks for protection. Paper “comfort” or “dust” masks commonly found at hardware stores are designed to trap large particles, such as sawdust. These masks will not protect your lungs from the small particles found in wildfire smoke. Read more on choosing and using respirators to protect your lungs from smoke and ash
  • Remove all ash and debris before bringing your child back to home or back to school. Read more from the EPA.