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Last updated Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 - 08:28

Wildfire & Smoke

Wildfires and severe smoke can create dangerous conditions for people, especially those with health conditions. Know when to stay, when to go, how to protect your home, and how to stay healthy.



US Forest Service worker stands at a podium and makes an announcement regarding the Eagle Creek Fire.
Photo credit: Kate Willson, Multnomah County



Wildfires and smoke can move quickly, and conditions can change in the blink of an eye. Make sure you know what's happening around you. Get connected now so you have the information you need.

  1. Get local alerts. Sign up for PublicAlerts so local emergency managers can send you evacuation alerts, air quality alerts, and other important info. You can also view current alerts to see what's happening now.
  2. View fire maps. Check out InciWeb and the Northwest Large Fire Interactive Map.
  3. Get fire news. Get updates and forecasts by checking out resources in Oregon (Smoke Blog and Department of Forestry) and Washington (Smoke Blog and Department of Natural Resources).
  4. Connect. Use the tips on the Stay Informed page to connect with loved ones and get information about what's happening in your neighborhood.
  5. Know when to go. Know what to expect if Evacuation orders are issued. 










Smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning plant materials. Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases.

Those Most at Risk

Follow your doctor’s recommendations and take extra steps to protect yourself.

  1. Infants and children. Familiarize yourself with guidance for parents, as well as state-specific guidance in Oregon (Español, Русский, 中文, Af Soomaali, Vietnamese) and Washington.
  2. Pregnant and nursing mothers. The CDC provides general disaster-related advice for pregnant and nursing mothers, as well as information specific to wildfire smoke.  
  3. Older adults and those with medical conditions. People with COVID-19, heart disease, lung heart disease, and diabetes are particularly sensitive to smoke. Work with your doctor to create a plan to stay healthy.  

Learn About the Air

Listen, watch, and pay attention to the Air Quality Index, which provides current info on how clean the air is and potential health risks.

How to Stay Safe

  1. Avoid smoky air and keep indoor air clean. Close doors and windows, close the fresh air intake on your A/C and set it to recirculate, use an air cleaner with a HEPA filter, and/or go to a place with AC if it’s hot and smoky. If you can, create clean room.
  2. Do not add to indoor air pollution. Do not use anything that burns, such as candles, incense, fireplaces, cigarettes, or gas stoves. Avoid frying or broiling when cooking. Do not vacuum.
  3. Do not rely on masks or bandannas for protection. Not all masks are effective and can provide a false sense of protection. If an N95 mask is properly worn, it can offer some protection.
  4. Maintain healthy behaviors. Drink lots of water. Eat balanced meals. Exercise indoors. Don’t smoke. Listen to your body and contact a healthcare provider if you are experiencing symptoms of smoke irritation.
  5. Leave if necessary. If your home doesn't feel safe, seek shelter in a designated evacuation center or away from the affected area.  

When to Get Help

If you or someone you know is experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 9-1-1. Contact your health care provider if you experience symptoms of smoke exposure.

  • Persistent cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Nausea or feeling lightheaded
  • Unusual fatigue

More Wildfire & Smoke Health Information





When buildings ignite during a wildfire, it's usually a result of embers or small flames. There are several steps that you can take to reduce the risk to your home or business.

Defend Your Home

Learn what actions you can take to reduce your risk of loss. If you own a home or business, learn how to prepare your home for wildfires (Cómo Preparar Su Casa Contra Incendios Forestales). Maintain defensible space around your home and use fire-resistant materials to harden your home.




During a wildfire, you may be asked to evacuate (leave your home). You may have hours or just minutes to get out. Pay attention to local alerts, and know what to expect if evacuation orders are issued.

Understand Evacuation Orders

Visit the Evacuation page to learn what evacuation orders mean and how to stay safe at each stage.

  • Cover up to protect against heat and flying embers.
  • Wear long pants, long sleeve shirt, heavy shoes/boots, cap, dry bandanna for face cover, and goggles or glasses.
  • 100% cotton is preferable.





About 95% of all wildfires are caused by human activity. We need your help to prevent them. Check out California's One Less Spark campaign for more information.

Basics of Wildfire Prevention

  • Properly dispose of cigarettes and matches.
  • Don't use a gas or electric lawnmower on dry weeds or grass.
  • Avoid using any equipment that creates sparks.
  • Be sure campfires and grills are completely put out.
  • Obey local burn bans and only burn if you have a permit.
  • Don't let vehicle parts drag on the ground, including tow chains.
  • Learn more at