Climate change is a public health emergency. Longer and more severe wildfire seasons due to rising global temperatures produce harmful smoke with far-reaching health impacts. In 2020, there was 57,000 wildfires in the U.S. that resulted in over 10.3 million acres burned, compared with 4.7 million acres in 2019.Smoke exposure from wildfires can harm not only those in the area, but can travel thousands of miles downwind, across states, countries, and even oceans.
“Smoke inhalation can cause heart attacks and asthma episodes and can even lead to premature death,” said Afif El-Hasan, M.D., pediatric asthma expert and American Lung Association volunteer medical spokesperson. “Wildfire smoke can be especially harmful to people living with lung diseases like COPD and asthma. Even healthy adults can risk coughing, wheezing, and have trouble breathing.”
Taking proactive precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones during a wildfire is imperative, especially if you live in an environment where the wildfire risk is high. But wildfire smoke not only affects the air outside, it can also easily travel into our indoor living spaces, increasing the risk for smoke inhalation and difficulty breathing.
Since 2018, the American Lung Association and Dyson have partnered to provide air purifiers to schools and long-term residential facilities throughout California, and through their partnership will continue to help ensure that everyone has the ability to breathe clean air inside their home.
This wildfire season, the American Lung Association and Dyson encourage all Californians to create a “clean room” to protect their families. If there is an active fire in your area, or if the Air Quality Index indicates smoke levels are unhealthy, you may be advised to stay indoors. Creating a clean room can help ensure that your indoor air is safe.
How To Create a Clean Room
1. Choose a room that is large enough to fit everyone in your household and comfortable to spend time in. A bedroom with an attached bathroom is ideal.
2. Make sure you close all doors and windows in the clean room and run window air conditioners or central air conditioning with the setting to indoor air mode.
3. Set up a properly sized air purifier with a HEPA filter and run it continuously on the highest setting.
4. Avoid any activities that produce particles in the air like burning candles or smoking.
5. Stay in the clean room, especially when there are local alerts about high air pollution days and when smoky air conditions exist.
For more information on how wildfire smoke affects lung health, visit Lung.org/wildfires.