How To Stay Healthy When The Air Quality Is Bad

Photo courtesy of Clayton Mitchell Photography

Last year, millions of Bay Area residents thought they had been transported to the set of the “Blade Runner.” Overnight, the smoke from the California wildfires transformed our usual morning haze into something much more eerie, almost apocalyptic. The sky was suddenly orange.

This year hasn’t been as bad, yet, but the air quality throughout California still drifts between unhealthy and dangerous. Smoke particulates can be dangerous for people with respiratory or heart conditions, and can cause a lingering cough in healthy people. There are ways to protect yourself and your pets, even if it’s hard to breathe outside.

Stay inside

If there’s a silver lining to the COVID pandemic, it’s that many people are already working from home. If you’re one of the lucky people who doesn’t have to leave their home, don’t.

Close doors and windows

It’s still summer and we crave fresh air. Unfortunately, the air outside is anything but. Close your doors and windows. Seal any openings with wet towels or rags. For air circulation in your home, place wet rags in front of fans.

Buy air purifiers

Keep your home’s air clean with HEPA air filters. We recommend getting enough to cover your main living areas and sleeping areas. Here is what Consumer Reports has to say about air purifiers.

Wear a mask

You’re already wearing masks outside for COVID, but what protects from a virus might not protect from smoke. The best mask for smoke is an N95 with a ventilator, but ventilators allow the virus to escape from the wearer’s mouth. An N95 without a ventilator works, but can be uncomfortable if worn for long periods of time. Unless you already have an N95 at home, please save them for frontline workers.

Drink lots of water

Smoke in the air will cause your throat and mouth to dry out. Drink more water than normal.

Wash up

If you’ve been outside, wash the ash off yourself as soon as you can. Rinse your mouth and nose in the shower. Wash your hair if you didn’t wear a hat outside. Throw your clothes in the washer.