Indoor Air Quality Hacks during Wildfire Season
Here we go again. It's Wildfire season.
I just went outside to empty the garbage and it smells like a campfire.
The current air quality reading in Wenatchee is “120, UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS” Smelling wildfire smoke has become routine here in North Central Washington. I don’t want the unhealthy air to get into my home.
I’m going to share with you some hacks that my family have used. Plus, I’ll will pass along some new ideas that I’ve learned from our friends at the EPA (the Environmental Protection Agency).
HACKS OUR FAMILY HAS USED FOR CLEANER INDOOR AIR
- When the outside temperatures get extremely hot or cold, we place towels or a blanket underneath any door leading to the outside. We also do this when the air quality dips beyond the MODERATE air quality range.
- We also change out the 20x20 air filter sooner than the usual 3 month recommendation. The last time I changed out the filter was August 1st. Today is Sunday September 11th. After only 6 weeks of use, the air filter already looks dirtier than usual, due to the recent air quality issues from various wildfires around the greater Wenatchee area. We are changing out the air filter today.
- We also have made it mandatory to take off our shoes, once we’ve returned home. We do this so we won’t track in the small smoke particles and other potentially dangerous microbes over our floor. My family normally walks around in socks, or bare feet. Whatever is on the floor usually gets tracked back to our bed sheets. Not good.
HACKS FOR CLEANER AIR, FROM THE EPA
- Use a portable air cleaner, using it when you’re home and have it dialed up to the highest setting. IF you don’t have a store bought portable air cleaner, the EPA suggests making a DIY version of a portable air cleaner: A box fan paired with a 20x20 HVAC air filter. (I pre-assembled a DIY filter and pictured it below.)
NOTE: Make sure you use a box fan purchased after 2012…older units, 10 years and older carry a fire risk. ALSO, you can attach the air filter to the box fan with Bungee cords, duct tape or metal clasps.
An important note, if you plan on using a DIY air cleaner, from the EPA:
“Follow the box fan manufacturer’s instructions, which can include: do not leave children unattended when the fan is in use; do not use an extension cord; do not use a damaged or malfunctioning fan; and ensure that there are working smoke detectors throughout the home.”
- IF you have an HVAC system with a fresh air intake, look in the instructions on how to close off the air circulating into your home OR switch your HVAC system to recycled air mode (this is much like what we have in our vehicles).
- IF you own a window air conditioning unit, close off the “outdoor air damper”. If you cannot close the air damper, you’ll have to use other indoor cooling options, such as using a fan.
- In the event of extremely poor air quality Use a N95 mask indoors.
This is something we encountered here in Wenatchee in 2012 - where at times, I couldn’t see the hotel across the street from our studios. Smoke was floating around the hallway, Here’s the pic below: