How to reduce your exposure to wildfire smoke
The annual number of wildfires raging around the world is increasing at an unprecedented rate. By the end of the century, the UN warns that these uncontrolled blazes will become 50% more common and begin affecting previously unaffected places.
The rise in wildfire incidences is closely linked to climate change. Hotter temperatures and drought fuel wildfires, creating conditions that are drier and more susceptible to burning. This is compounded by winter snowpacks melting earlier in the year and shifting meteorological patterns driving rain away from commonly-affected regions.
At present, there are an estimated 340,000 premature deaths each year from respiratory and cardiovascular issues attributed to wildfire smoke. This number only looks set to rise as wildfires become a more common part of life on every continent aside from Antartica.
For many people, wildfires might not seem like an imminent health risk. But as wildfires increase - more people will be directly and indirectly affected by wildfire smoke, which can travel many miles and linger in the air for days or even weeks.
You can reduce your exposure to wildfire smoke with a few simple measures.
Keep track of fires nearby
If a wildfire does break out, ensure you’re ready by keeping an eye on local fire watches and warnings. When you’re prepared, you will be able to respond more quickly to the outbreak and act faster to protect yourself.
Stay indoors during active wildfires
Wildfire smoke affects both indoor and outdoor air quality. Still, the air inside is not as hazardous as the ambient air. When a wildfire is raging in your region, keep the doors and windows closed to reduce your exposure to smoke, ashes and other particle pollutants.
Create a dedicated clean room at home
Wildfire smoke can get into the home and leave you with nowhere to hide from this health hazard. Create a clean room where you can safely spend time by keeping the windows and doors closed and using an air-cleaning device to filter the air in the room.
Take advantage of public places
Many public places like libraries, shopping malls and community centers have large, effective air filtration systems. As a result, the indoor air quality tends to be fairly good. If possible, seek out and spend time in these spaces when the outdoor air quality is poor.
Wear a mask whenever outdoors
Fine inhalable particulate matter (PM2.5) is the air pollutant that is the biggest risk to public health from wildfire smoke. Wearing a multilayer respirator mask with a high filter efficiency protects you from PM2.5 pollution even if you are not directly exposed to the smoke. With a filter efficiency of over 95% at 0.3μm particle size, Airinum masks are highly effective at preventing smoke inhalation.