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. Listen, watch, and pay attention to the Air Quality Index. It provides current info on how clean the air is and potential health risks.
People at Most Risk
Follow your doctor’s recommendations and take extra steps to protect yourself.
- 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.
- Pregnant and nursing people. The CDC provides general disaster-related advice for pregnant and nursing people, as well as information specific to wildfire smoke.
- 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.
How to Stay Safe
- 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.
- 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.
- Do not rely on masks or bandannas for protection. If an N95 respirator is properly worn, it can offer some protection from smoke. However, they are in short supply. Cloth face coverings can help prevent spread of COVID-19, but don’t protect against fine particulates in smoke. Avoid smoke by staying inside. Close windows and doors.
- Maintain healthy behaviors. Drink lots of water. Eat balanced meals. Don't smoke. Stretch and move your body indoors, but don't exert yourself too much. Listen to your body and contact a healthcare provider if you are experiencing symptoms of smoke irritation.
- 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
- Washington State Department of Health
- Oregon Health Authority
- County Public Health Departments