Smoke Damage >> House Fire Exposure To Smoke

"Mask" means different things to different people. For example, to some people "dust mask" describes a P100 particulate respirator used in the construction industry, House Fire Exposure To Smoke and to others it means a one-strap paper mask that is NOT a respirator. A disposable particulate respirator has been certified by NIOSH to ensure that it can filter out harmful particles. 

Paper masks and surgical masks are not certified by NIOSH and cannot provide the protection that respirators do. Commonly available one-strap paper dust masks, House Fire Exposure To Smoke which are designed to keep larger particles out of the nose and mouth, typically offer little protection. The same is true for bandanas (wet or dry) and tissues held over the mouth and nose. 

Surgical masks are designed to filter air coming out of the wearer's mouth, and do not provide a good seal to prevent inhalation of small particles found in wildfire smoke. Incorrect use of respirators, or use of other, less protective face coverings, may give the wearer a false sense of security and House Fire Exposure To Smoke encourage increased physical activity and time spent outdoors, resulting in increased exposures. 

N95 and P100 respirators described in this section would also help to protect people involved in cleaning up fire ash. Additional guidance for the public on cleaning up ash safely appears as Appendix C. If respirators are not available during fire ash cleanup, House Fire Exposure To Smoke simple paper masks or other face coverings may help keep grit and dust out of the nose and mouth, but they will not protect the lungs. 

Use of respirators by workers generally must be under a comprehensive, OSHA compliant respiratory protection program. These programs include medical evaluation of employees to ensure that it is safe and appropriate for them to use respirators; House Fire Exposure To Smoke individual fit testing to select a model and size that fit; and training on respirator use. 

Employers who anticipate that their workers may need to wear respiratory protection are expected to put in place a full program prior to use. However, House Fire Exposure To Smoke during emergency situations such as smoke events employees who work outdoors or indoors (who would not otherwise be required to wear respirators) may request to use respirators to protect against exposure to smoke, particularly when the local Air Quality Index (AQI) for PM is rated "unhealthy" or worse. 

As long as occupational particulate standards are not exceeded (which is unlikely for workers not performing firefighting duties), the OSHA respiratory protection standard permits employers to allow voluntary use of N95 or House Fire Exposure To Smoke other disposable filtering facepiece respirators without requiring a medical evaluation or fit test. 

Employees must be provided with Appendix D of the federal OSHA respiratory protection standard (for workplaces under Cal/OSHA jurisdiction this is available at http://www.dir.ca.gov/Title8/5144d.html). Employers should also tell employees that the respirator will provide some protection against the particles in smoke, House Fire Exposure To Smoke but without fit testing it may not provide the maximum level of protection. 

Although a medical evaluation is not required, House Fire Exposure To Smoke the employer should advise employees to consult their doctor about potential exposures to smoke and respirator use, particularly if they have respiratory or heart disease. Cleaner air shelters Public health officials in areas at risk from forest fires should identify and evaluate cleaner air shelters prior to the fire season. 

Guidance for identifying and setting up a Cleaner Air Shelter is provided in Appendix D. During severe smoke events, House Fire Exposure To Smoke cleaner air shelters can be designated to provide residents with a place to get out of the smoke. Staying inside at home may not adequately protect sensitive individuals, since many houses and apartments do not have air conditioning, and depend on open windows and doors for cooling. 

Other homes may be so leaky that indoor pollution levels will quickly equal those outside. Cleaner air shelters can be located in large commercial buildings, educational facilities, shopping malls, House Fire Exposure To Smoke or any place with effective air conditioning and particle filtration. Closures The decision to close or curtail business activities and public events will depend upon predicted smoke levels and other local conditions. 

One factor to consider is whether pollutant levels inside schools and House Fire Exposure To Smoke businesses are likely to be similar to or lower than those in homes. Children's physical activity may also be better controlled in schools than in homes. On the other hand, in some school districts smoky conditions may make travel to school hazardous. 

In many areas it will not be practical to close businesses and schools, although partial closures may be beneficial. Closures and cancellations can target specific groups (e.g., the sensitive populations described earlier) or specific, highrisk activities, House Fire Exposure To Smoke such as outdoor sporting events and practices. Curtailing outside activities can reduce exposures, as can encouraging people to stay inside and restrict physical activity. 

A decision to restrict industrial emissions should be based on local air pollution and House Fire Exposure To Smoke the emission characteristics of particular industries. Curtailment may not be necessary if eliminating industrial emissions will not markedly reduce local air pollution. Evacuation The most common call for evacuation during a wildfire is due to the direct threat of engulfment by the fire rather than by exposure to smoke. 

Leaving an area of thick smoke may be a good protective measure for members of sensitive groups, but it is often difficult to predict the duration, intensity, and direction of smoke, House Fire Exposure To Smoke making this an unattractive option to many people. Even if smoky conditions are expected to continue for weeks, it may not be feasible to evacuate a large percentage of the affected population. 

Moreover, the process of evacuation can entail serious risks, particularly if poor visibility makes driving hazardous. In these situations, the risks posed by driving with reduced visibility need to be weighed against the potential benefits of evacuation. Therefore, House Fire Exposure To Smoke in areas where fires are likely to occur, public health officials are encouraged to develop plans for local protection of sensitive groups. 

Where individuals are evacuated to a common center because of fire danger, public health officials need to pay particular attention to the potential for smoke to affect the evacuation center itself. It is not always possible to locate evacuation centers far away from smoky areas, House Fire Exposure To Smoke or to expect that evacuees will be able to take the steps necessary to reduce their exposures in their new surroundings. 

Public health officials should consider advising incident commanders if this situation could arise and ensure that evacuees are provided with information and materials to further reduce exposures, including provision of a cleaner air shelter within the evacuation center, House Fire Exposure To Smoke if possible, as well as other means of respiratory protection. (See "Respiratory Protection" above).

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