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Is distant wildfire smoke dangerous?

For people living in the western United States, June 1st is notable—it marks the start of wildfire season. This year, residents are preparing for the season after suffering devastating losses in 2018. One common measure is to clear away dry branches and other debris to create 100 feet of “defensible space” around every home. As a result, when a wildfire approaches, there’s less fuel to feed it.

Beyond the flames

But the impact from wildfires goes far beyond the flames. The smoke generated by a wildfire can travel for many miles and pose a health threat. Just as it’s critical to clear out the space surrounding a house, it’s also crucial for people in proximity to wildfire areas to protect themselves from wildfire smoke.

Wildfire smoke is worse than other types

When a wildfire burns through a community, it consumes everything in its path. This includes all kinds of household materials, like rubber, plastics, metals and more. In the heat of the fire, these materials become tiny, airborne toxins. The fine particles then irritate people’s eyes and throats. They can also cause respiratory issues if taken into the lungs. Further, one study revealed that elderly people, children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to the particles released from wildfires.

Wildfire smoke travels the distance

In 2018, as the Camp Fire near Paradise, California raged, public health officials made a startling declaration. They said that breathing the air in San Francisco for a day—over 150 miles from the fire—was equivalent to smoking ten cigarettes. No homes in the Bay Area were in danger from the flames, but the unhealthy smoke had traveled. Local authorities closed schools, canceled major events and advised people to stay indoors while the smoke loomed.

Protect yourself and your family

When wildfire smoke blows into your area, the best protection is to remain inside a well-sealed home with a HEPA-filter air purifier, like the Coway Airmega. The Coway Airmega constantly monitors indoor air quality. When the unit senses a decrease in air quality, it automatically activates the air purification process and removes harmful particles. Even in the event of a distant wildfire, the Coway Airmega can provide safe, clean air for you and your family.