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How to safely clear fire smoke from your home

AirDoctor AD2000 4-in-1 air purifier
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Wildfires cause widespread damage and billions of dollars in suppression costs each year. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, more than $4 billion was spent on fire suppression in 2021, about double from the previous year. Aside from the property damage and inherent dangers associated with large-scale wildfires, these events can also lead to a dramatic decline in air quality. Poor air quality can lead to cardiovascular and respiratory problems and can even impact your mental health. If you live near a fire-prone area, you need to figure out which devices can help clear your home of smoke from wildfires.

How do fires affect air quality?

Various factors, including volatile organic compounds, ozone, harmful gases and particulate matter, worsen air quality. Particulate matter is the main culprit of wildfire smoke, as these events produce tiny particles that can enter the lungs or bloodstream. According to the California Air Resources Board, “Health problems related to wildfire smoke exposure can be as mild as eye and respiratory tract irritation and as severe as worsening heart and lung disease, including asthma, and even premature death.”

The recent spate of wildfires in Canada has led to large plumes of smoke blanketing New York City, causing a massive drop in air quality. The air quality in New York City was 484 on the Air Quality Index Wednesday evening; anything over 301 is considered dangerous. New York City officials have asked residents to wear N95 masks to protect their health.

What to do if you are affected by fires

Smoke from fires tends to enter homes through window and door openings. Try to keep windows and doors closed as often as possible. Applying weather strips will help keep smoke out of your home. Of course, if there’s an active air quality problem in your area, try limiting the time you spend outside by applying these strips, and be sure to wear a mask. It’s important to note that the heat can pose a serious health risk if there’s a fire nearby, so you may need to temporarily open a window to cool your home. Alternatively, you can run your air conditioner on its recirculating setting to cool your home without drawing in outside air.

Consider replacing your home’s HVAC filter with a high-efficiency particulate filter. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, anything with a MERV rating of 13 or higher can capture up to 50% of particles between 0.3 and 10 microns.

If you have pets, you may want to consider setting up an area in your home where they can use the bathroom. While this can reinforce bad habits, it will help keep them safe. If you take them outside to use the bathroom, try to limit the amount of time you spend in the smoke and wear an N95 mask. It is essential to put the mask over your mouth and nose and leave no room for the smoke to enter your lungs.

Air purifiers are a must for those who live in fire prone areas. These devices clean the air in your home and can remove some particulate matter from your indoor environment. Consider an air purifier with a HEPA filter, as these generally remove more particles from the air than a traditional model. If you have a large home, you may want to purchase multiple units, as they have limited range.

It’s also a good idea to place a few air quality monitors around the house. These devices let you know when the air in a particular room is unsafe to breathe. These can be an excellent way to identify the safest room in your home by knowing where your air purifier is needed most.

The best fire protection products

AirDoctor AD2000 4-in-1 air purifier

AirDoctor AD2000 4-in-1 air purifier

This is one of the best air purifiers out there, as it has an efficient HEPA filter that removes nearly 100% of particulate matter larger than 0.003 microns. It has an automatic setting that adjusts its power based on indoor air quality. It circulates the air in a 305 square foot radius four times every hour.

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BlueAir Blue 311 air purifier

BlueAir Blue 311 air purifier

This lightweight air purifier is easy to move around your home as needed. It has a true HEPA filter and activated carbon to deeply clean the air in your home. It’s incredibly quiet and has an automatic setting that adjusts to your home’s indoor air quality.

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Airthings Battery Powered Air Quality Monitor

Airthings Battery Powered Air Quality Monitor

This can alert you when the carbon dioxide levels in your home are unsure, but it’s important to note that it doesn’t track particulate matter. You can view your home’s air quality on your smartphone or by waving your hand in front of the sensor. It is available in black or white.

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Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitoring

Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitoring

These compact monitors are easy to place around your home. They have a built-in color-coded indicator and let you track important air quality metrics from your Alexa app. They track particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, moisture and more.

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3M 9205+ Aura Particulate N95 Respirator

3M 9205+ Aura Particulate N95 Respirator

Our medical expert notes that this mask is designed for breathability, making it an excellent choice for those who need to spend a few minutes outdoors. It offers 95% filtration and is designed to fit various face shapes and sizes. It is made from soft materials that feel comfortable against the skin.

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Honeywell Disposable Safety Respirator

Honeywell Disposable Safety Respirator

This has multiple layers of filtration and an adjustable nose clip. Folds flat, making it easy to stash in your pocket should the need arise. You get 20 masks in one set.

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Cody Stewart writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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