Smoke Ready Seattle

Preparing our communities for wildfire smoke

Smoke from wildfires has become a recurring seasonal air quality hazard in the western United States and British Columbia. In the Puget Sound region in 2018, wildfire smoke led to 24 days of poor air quality, including nine days that were considered either unhealthy for sensitive groups or unhealthy for everyone. 

This year, the threat of wildfire smoke is compounded by the ongoing presence of COVID-19 in our communities. Smoke may create additional risk for people with COVID-19 and worsen symptoms. So while wildfire smoke may seem like a less pressing threat in light of the global pandemic, COVID-19 gives us even more reason to be prepared for wildfire smoke this summer.

Read more about managing your respiratory health during the COVID-19 pandemic at Seattle King County Public Health.

How can I keep track of Air Quality in my neighborhood

What can I do to protect myself and my family from outdoor smoke? (From DOH)

  • Check local air quality reports and listen to news or health warnings for your community.
  • Avoid physical exertion outdoors if smoke is in the air.
  • If you have asthma or other lung diseases, make sure you follow your doctor's directions about taking your medicines and follow your asthma management plan. Call your health care provider if your symptoms worsen. 
  • Stay indoors and keep indoor air as clean as possible. Take the following steps when indoors: 
  • Keep windows and doors closed. Track the air quality and open your windows for fresh air when the air quality improves.
  • Pay attention to the heat indoors and follow guidance in the section below if it's too hot.  
  • Run an air conditioner, set it to re-circulate and close the fresh-air intake. Make sure to change the filter regularly.
  • Use an air cleaner with a  high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to reduce indoor air pollution. A HEPA filter will reduce the number of irritating fine particles in indoor air. A HEPA filter with charcoal will help remove some of the gases from the smoke. Do not use an air cleaner that produces ozone. For more information:
  • Don't add to indoor pollution. Don't use food boilers, candles, incense, fireplaces, or gas stoves. Don't vacuum unless your vacuum has a HEPA filter, because vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home. Don't smoke, because smoking puts even more pollution into the air.
  • Consider leaving the area if the air quality is poor and it's not possible to keep indoor air clean, especially if you or those you are caring for are having health problems or are in a sensitive group. See section above titled, who is especially sensitive to smoke. 
  • Protect your pets from poor air quality and smoke
    • Make sure pets are healthy with regular veterinary care so they are better able to cope with extreme conditions
    • Keep pets indoors as much as possible and keep windows shut.
    • Never put birds outside or near open windows when air quality is poor due to smoke or other conditions as they are particularly susceptible.
    • Avoid all physical exertion or intense exercise.  Use nose work or behavior training exercises indoors to deal with excess energy.
    • Pay special attention to older, ill animals or those with flat faces (i.e. Pugs, Persian cats) who are less able to cope with extreme conditions.
  • For outdoor pets (miniature goats, hens)
    • Make sure they have plenty of clean, fresh water.
    • Offer low dust or dust free feed.
    • Use misters or sprinklers to keep dust down in bedding and feeding areas.

Partner Resources

Public Health Insider - Wildfire Smoke Preparedness During a Pandemic

Washginton State Department of Health FAQ on wildfires

Washington State Department of Health multi-lingual toolkits

California Air Resource Board list of approved air cleaning devices

Get a Healthy Home Check Up

Through our partnership with the American Lung Association, you can get a free assessment of air quality in your home and recommendations on how to improve the air through the ALA Master Home Environmentalist Program

For businesses: Guidance from L&I about wildfire smoke

Video Resources

Wildfire smoke information from the Department of Natural Resources:

Video Still from Wildfire Smoke Information Video - Click to Play!

How to fit an N95 mask:

Still from Informational Video on Mask Fitting - Click to Play!

Shareable Resources

Informational Flyer: masks don't work for people with beards, children, or people with respiratory illnesses

Informational Flyer: Avoid wildfire smoke by staying inside and finding indoor spaces with air filtration

Informational Flyer: Children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with existing respiratory issues are most vulnerable to wildfire smoke

Informational Flyer: Masks must be worn tightly so no air gets in. They are not recommended for all groups.