Like much of the western U.S., our region has seen an increase in the number of unhealthy air quality days caused by wildfire smoke. During three of the last four years, smoke from wildfires resulted in 42 days of unhealthy air in the Spokane County metro area.
# of days smoke from wildfires failed to meet federal, health-based air quality standards
|2019||0 (so far)|
Wildfire smoke can travel hundreds, even thousands, of miles from a fire causing significant air pollution events. Fine particles in smoke can pose a health threat particularly for children, older adults and people with heart or lung disease. Though healthy individuals are not usually at major risk from short-term exposures, it's important for everyone's health to reduce exposure where possible.
While we can't predict what the smoke impacts will be this summer, we can be prepared. Below are some recommendations and on the left are links to additional resources.
- Wildfire smoke is a seasonal hazard that will continue to impact our region.
- Start preparing now. Don’t wait until the smoke arrives. Early preparation can help mitigate impacts on your home and community.
- Check SpokaneCleanAir.org for current air quality information which is updated hourly. Another great resource for statewide air quality and wildfire updates is the Washington Smoke blog https://wasmoke.blogspot.com/
- During periods of poor air quality, know when to limit or avoid your time outdoors.
- Check on your neighbors. If you have filtration/air conditioning at home, share your space with those in need.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about your risks to you or your family—especially those with heart and lung disease, infants, children to age 18, pregnant women, people over age 65.
- Know how to set the air conditioner in your home and in your vehicles to “recirculate” to avoid outdoor air intake.
- Check your vehicle(s) air filter and make sure it is HEPA equivalent.
- Create a cleaner-air room in your home using a HEPA filter and change the filter more often when it’s smoky. Some room air cleaners can help reduce particulate levels indoors, as long as they are the right type and size for your home.
- Masks are a last resort if you *must* be outdoors. They do not work for everyone and may be hazardous to some. If you need to use a mask, use an N95 or N100 respirator and ensure it's properly fitted.
- If you have children in summer camps or childcare, make sure to ask the organizers about their smoke plan.
- Pets can be affected by wildfire smoke too.
- If you are an employer - Indoor workers: Ensure your facility's HVAC system has upgraded filter efficiency, change filters frequently during smoke events, and consider supplementing with HEPA filters. Learn more here.
Outdoor workers: Here is a mask info sheet from L&I.
Check out Frequently-asked questions for helpful information about wildfire smoke.