A potential summer of low air quality

Helpful advice on how Washingtonians can prepare for the upcoming wildfires and poor air quality to come

With a rainy winter behind us and a hot and dry summer ahead of us, it’s likely to expect that we’ll soon be entering smoke season, a time of year when the air quality becomes poor and forested areas more susceptible to wildfires. Below is all you need to know about the side effects of smoke season and how to best prepare yourself and your home this summer.

The first and most important thing about smoke season that people should know about are the health risks. Smoke inhalation is naturally bad for people’s skin, heart and lungs. But for those more vulnerable to COVID-19, or those recovering from it, smoke can be much more dangerous. According to the USDA, wildfires and COVID-19 cases overlap.

“Exposure to air pollutants in wildfire smoke can irritate the lungs, cause inflammation, alter immune function, and increase susceptibility to respiratory infections, likely including COVID-19,” USDA stated. To ensure you and your family stay safe, wear cloth masks outside and stay indoors when the air quality is poor.

In terms of preserving good indoor air quality, Public Health Insider advises keeping windows and doors closed and avoiding burning candles or smoking or vacuuming inside. PHI also adds that air filters such as HVAC systems or portable air cleaners can improve air quality throughout your home rather than just a single room.

Finally, remember to clear out any dried bramble or foliage around your house to reduce the risk of brush fires in your immediate area, and keep fire-resistant tools and equipment nearby. Talk with your family and keep an eye out for updates on weather and remember to stay safe!