Smoke from wildfires across the western U.S. and Canada has covered much of the country in a cloud of thick smog, creating unhealthy air conditions and affecting indoor air quality as far away as North Carolina. Wild fire smoke impacts indoor air quality across the country all the way to Vancouver, Washington.
If these wildfires are burning near you, there is a high chance that the smoke will reach your home. Wildfire smoke consists of fine particles from burning buildings, plants, materials, etc., and several harmful gases, making it imperative that you take measures to protect your loved ones from it.
Understand that wildfire smoke is harmful and can make people sick, especially those with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), asthma, pregnant women, children, and those dealing with heart diseases.
As soon it reaches your respiratory system, smoke can cause:
- Stinging eyes
- Asthma Attacks
- Troubled breathing
- Runny nose
- Scratchy throat
- Fast heartbeat
- Irritated sinuses
- Chest pain
That’s why it is vital to protect your household against ash and smoke before, during, and after a wildfire rages close to you.
In this blog, we will explore how wildfire smoke can enter your home and impacts its filtration.
The Effect Of Wildfire Smoke On Your Air Filtration System
Smoke is a mixture of gases and fine particles produced when organic materials burn. The biggest threat to our health is these microscopic particles that can get deep into the lungs, cause burning eyes, running nose, and lead to chronic heart and lung diseases.
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is impacted by wildfire smoke in varying degrees. It all depends on the closeness of your home to where the wildfire has taken place. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists these protocols to follow as per the proximity of your home to the fire:
- If the active wildfire is close enough to cause a lot of smoke and the wind is blowing it your way, keep the windows and doors closed at all costs
- Check out the EPA’s website for precise instructions, keep up to date by checking the news or the state air quality website
- If the smoke is from a wildfire several thousand miles away but reaches your community, it includes the particle pollution already within your locality. It’d be best to monitor the outdoor air quality through gov while managing the IAQ
- If the active fire is close to your home, the best course of action is to evacuate. Wildfires can travel at 14 miles per hour in grasslands and 6 miles per hour in forests, so it’s better to ensure your safety early on. Be sure to follow local emergency alerts and follow their evacuation instructions closely
- Wild fire smoke impacts indoor air quality as well as your homes heating and ac system. Protect yourself and know the options.
Ways To Protect Your Home And Loved Ones From Wildfire Smoke
When dealing with wildfire smoke, first take measures to prevent inhalation of its toxins. Here are a few ways you can keep the smoke from entering your home and your loved ones from inhaling it:
Install An Air Purifier In The Ducts
The Protector is an air-purifiers equipped with an LED UV-C light, an ion generator, and a quad-metallic catalyst that causes ionization, deodorization, and photocatalysis as it comes into contact with air molecules in the home. Some advantages of The Protector include:
- Kills 99.99% of Listeria, Bird Flu, T.B., E. Coli, Listeria, Strep, and COVID viruses
- Reduces odor by 85%
- Reduces dust, allergens, dust, and smoke within the home
- Reduces mold and bacteria by 97%
- Reduces VOC by over 85%
Purchase High-Efficiency Filters And Change Them Periodically
Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values (MERV) approved filters with high ratings increase filtration and remove more contaminants. Most filters have a MERV rating over ten and can be 1 to 5 inches thick.
Make sure your filter has a deep pleat and that it fits snugly to avoid putting excess strain on your system. The minimum MERV rating of a filter in case of wildfire smoke should be 13.
Additionally, change your filter more often than usual during wildfire season, especially since you already spend more time indoors due to the pandemic.
Wild fire smoke impacts indoor air quality and your home system, know all you can. Get in touch with Millers Heating to find suitable filters in Vancouver, WA. Contact-us and place your order at 360-695-6500, and collect it from our office at 6109 NE Hwy 99, Vancouver, WA 98665. Our walk-in office hours are from 8 am to 4 pm.
Tightly Seal The Windows And Doors
It would be best to keep in mind that air can quickly come in through doors and windows, so make sure to keep them shut.
If you suspect that air is seeping through the gaps under your doors and windows and you do not have caulking to seal them, use package or duct tape around the window frame where you feel a draft. Also, put towels in front of your doors to plug the gap under them.
Utilize Your HVAC System’s Settings To Keep Smoke Out
It isn’t easy to maintain indoor temperatures while keeping smoke out without a central cooling system or air conditioner. But running the fan on your HVAC system on low to filter the indoor air may help.
At the thermostat, the “FAN” should be manually set to “ON” or “CIRC”. When set to “ON” the fan will run continuously regardless of whether or not the system is heating or cooling. If set to “CIRC”, the fan will operate intermittently throughout the day to circulate the air at different times. If your HVAC system has a fresh air intake. It would be best to close the damper to prevent outside air from entering the home during smoky conditions.
Keep An Eye On The Air Quality Index (AQI)
EPA’s Air Quality Index communicates the possible risks and health impacts of air pollution using a color-coded system. You can find the AQI of your locale in your weather app or at the AirNow website.
Code Orange points to the air around you and if it can hurt sensitive people such as children, seniors, those with asthma, or other similar conditions. These individuals must stay indoors.
Code Red tells us that these sensitive persons are at high risk, and even people who don’t fall within this category may be affected.
Code Maroon indicates that the air quality is terrible for everyone. When you see this in the news, it’s time to use portable indoor air filters and install particulate air filters in HVAC to keep the smoke outside and maintain indoor quality.
Wildfires are a dire catastrophe, and when dealing with one, you should prioritize your health and safety and that of your loved ones.
Remember that the number one cause of death during fires is smoke inhalation. Additionally, smoke can cause irreversible damage to arteries, so you should take the necessary precautions to save yourself and your family from smoke damage and regulate your indoor air quality during wildfires.
If you’d like your HVAC system serviced or need more info on filter options, let the filtration experts at Millers Heating and Air help you. We can guide you on how you can be appropriately protected from smoke in the event of a wildfire.