wildfire-near-homes

Wildfires and COVID-19

Wildfire smoke can irritate your lungs, cause inflammation, affect your immune system, and make you more prone to lung infections, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that cause COVID-19. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, preparing for wildfires might be a little different this year. Know how wildfire smoke can affect you and your loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic and what you can do to protect yourself

Prepare for the wildfire smoke season. Give yourself more time than usual. Home delivery is the safest choice for buying disaster supplies; however, that may not be an option for everyone. If in-person shopping is your only option, take steps to protect your and others’ health when running essential errands.

Talk with a healthcare provider. Plan how you will protect yourself against wildfire smoke.

facial-maskStock up on medicines routinely taken. Store a 7 to 10-day supply of prescription medicines in a waterproof, childproof container to take with you if you evacuate.

As part of your planning for a potential evacuation, consider developing a family disaster plan.

Masks will not protect you from wildfire smoke. Masks that are used to slow the spread of COVID-19 offer little protection against wildfire smoke. They do not catch small, harmful particles in smoke that can harm your health. Although N95 respirators do provide protection from wildfire smoke, they might be in short supply as frontline healthcare workers use them during the pandemic.

Create a cleaner air space at home to protect yourself from wildfire smoke during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Here are some tips:

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 use a do-it-yourself box fan filtration unit, never leave it unattended.

During periods of extreme heat, pay attention to temperature forecasts and know how to stay safe in the heat.

Whenever you can, use air conditioners, heat pumps, fans, and window shades to keep your cleaner air space comfortably cool on hot days.

If you have a forced air system in your home, you may need to speak with a qualified heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professional about different filters (HEPA or MERV-13 or higher) and settings (“Recirculate” and “On” rather than “Auto”) you can use to reduce indoor smoke.

Avoid activities that create more indoor and outdoor air pollution, such as frying foods, sweeping, vacuuming, and using gas-powered appliances.

Visit airnow.gov to find reliable information about wildfire smoke and air quality.

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