Hazy days are here: How to protect yourself from smoky air

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COLORADO SPRINGS — As wildfires continue burning in the West, smoke is drifting into Colorado and causing air quality advisories.

As of this report, Colorado Springs is under a moderate air quality advisory. Despite a lower risk level, people have reported increased sneezing and coughing due to the smoky conditions.

Several health sources list ways to battle smoky conditions, both inside and outside your home.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

  • Keep indoor air as clean as possible if you are advised to stay indoors. Keep windows and doors closed. Run an air conditioner, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside. If you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed, go to a designated shelter away from the affected area. Learn more about protecting yourself and your family from smoke during a wildfire.
  • Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution. Burning candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves can increase indoor pollution. Vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home, contributing to indoor pollution. Smoking also puts even more pollution into the air.

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

  • Consider purchasing a portable air cleaner or high-efficiency HVAC Filter
  • Consider purchasing N95 respirator masks
  • Keep windows and doors closed
  • Use fans and air conditioning to stay cool. If you cannot stay cool, seek shelter elsewhere.
  • If you have an evaporative cooler, avoid using it unless there is a heat emergency because it can result in more smoke being brought inside. If you must use the evaporative cooler, take advantage of times when outdoor air quality improves, even temporarily, to open windows and air out the house.
  • If you have a window air conditioner, close the outdoor air damper. If you cannot close the damper, do not use the window air conditioner. Make sure that the seal between the air conditioner and the window is as tight as possible.
  • If you have a portable air conditioner with a single hose, typically vented out of a window, do not use it in smoky conditions because it can result in more smoke being brought inside. If you have a portable air conditioner with two hoses, make sure that the seal between the window vent kit and the window is as tight as possible.
  • Use a portable air cleaner or high-efficiency filter to remove fine particles from the air. If you use a portable air cleaner, run it as often as possible on the highest fan speed.
  • If you have an HVAC system with a high-efficiency filter installed, run the system’s fan as often as possible to remove particles while the air quality is poor.

AVOID:

  • Activities that create more fine particles indoors, including smoking cigarettes
  • Using gas, propane or wood-burning stoves and furnaces
  • Spraying aerosol products
  • Frying or broiling food
  • Burning candles or incense
  • Vacuuming, unless you use a vacuum with a HEPA filter
  • Strenuous activity during smoky times to reduce how much smoke you inhale

DO:

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