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EPA, state, tribal and local air quality partners offer wildfire smoke-ready tips for the Pacific Northwest and Alaska

09/18/2020
Contact Information: 
Suzanne Skadowski (skadowski.suzanne@epa.gov)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and more than a dozen state, tribal and local air agencies in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska are making important tools available to help the public reduce smoke exposure and protect human health as massive wildfires continue to impact local air quality.

To access these materials, the public may visit EPA’s comprehensive “Smoke-Ready Toolbox for Wildfires” to educate themselves about the risks of smoke exposures and take actions to protect their health. Some of the materials in the toolbox, include:

  • A recently launched pilot project to include data from low-cost air sensors on the Fire and Smoke Map on its AirNow website.
  • The Smoke Sense App that provides real-time smoke information.
  • The AirNow Mobile App, an effective tool to keep track of local air quality conditions.

Additionally, the public can also visit EPA’s page, Indoor Air Quality Impacts of Wildfire Smoke.

Helpful Tips to Reduce Wildfire Smoke Exposure

Some additional smoke tips include:

  • Portable indoor air cleaners and high-efficiency HVAC  filters of MERV-13 or higher ratings can help reduce fine particles from smoke in indoor air.
  • Establishing a “Clean Room” in your living space is another practical way to reduce smoke exposure for you and your family.
  • Cloth masks will not protect you from wildfire smoke. Cloth masks or face coverings that are used to slow the spread of COVID-19, by blocking respiratory droplets, offer little protection against wildfire smoke. They do not catch very small particles in smoke that can harm your health. N95 respirators can provide protection from wildfire smoke, however they might be in short supply as frontline healthcare workers use them during the pandemic.
  • Please reserve our 911 system for immediate, life threatening emergencies only! Do not call 911 to report wildfire smoke in your area. Emergency Response personnel understand the gravity and scale of the problem here in the Northwest!

See the listings below for more resources in your state:

In Washington

The Washington Smoke Blog is a comprehensive, multi-agency resource for ways to reduce wildfire smoke exposure during the time of COVID.

Washington Department of Health has an informative “Smoke from Fires” page.

Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has an excellent Wildfire Smoke Page.

In Oregon

For the latest, timely information on hard-hit Oregon, visit the Oregon Smoke Blog and download the free OregonAIR app to a smartphone.

Oregon Wildfire Resources centralizes information from several agencies in one handy website.

Oregon Health Authority has an informative video and good preparedness info on their “Get Prepared” page.

In Idaho

Know if there is a wildfire nearby in Idaho by checking http://www.idahofireinfo.com/.  For the latest in updated wildfire conditions and trends around Idaho, visit the Idaho Smoke Blog.

Idaho Office of Emergency Management also has an excellent handbook of tools, techniques, and preparation tips prepared by the Idaho Silverjackets Team, “Wildfire: A Resource Guide for Individuals”.

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare covers wildfire smoke health and safety information in their “Wildfire Smoke” page.

Idaho also has a good fire preparation and prevention program, Idaho Firewise, Inc. offered by several state, local, and federal agencies, and the Nez Perce tribe, aimed at protecting property and preventing wildfires.

In Alaska

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation has a good Wildfire Smoke Information page, and statewide wildfire information is also available at “AK FIRE INFO.”

For Tribes

The Tribal Healthy Homes Network offers many helpful social media tools and resources to protect reservation residents from wildfire smoke.

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