Smoke Damage >> Remove Smoke Odor From The Air

When wildfires are expected to create smoky conditions, people can pursue a number of strategies to reduce their exposure. Those with moderate to severe heart or lung disease might consider staying with relatives or friends who live away from the smoke during the fires. If smoke is already present in substantial quantities, Remove Smoke Odor From The Air such individuals may want to evaluate whether evacuation might actually cause greater exposure than staying at home using other precautions described above. 

All people in a smoky area (except firefighters or emergency personnel) should avoid strenuous work or exercise outdoors. They should avoid driving whenever possible. If driving is necessary, Remove Smoke Odor From The Air people should run the air conditioner on the "recycle" or re-circulate mode to avoid drawing smoky air into the car. 

Closing up a home by shutting windows and doors can give some protection from smoke. Most air conditioners are designed by default to re-circulate indoor air. Those systems that have both "outdoor air" and Remove Smoke Odor From The Air "re-circulate" settings need to be set on "re-circulate" during fire/smoke events to prevent smoke-laden air from being drawn into the building (note: this does not apply to HVAC systems in office and commercial buildings; see Appendix A). 

Once people have closed up the building in which they live, they should avoid strenuous activity, Remove Smoke Odor From The Air which can make them breathe harder and faster. They should drink plenty of fluids to keep their respiratory membranes moist. They may even want to breathe through a moistened washcloth, as long as it does not interfere with their ability to breathe. 

NIOSH-certified disposable respirators (N95 or P100) available in hardware or Remove Smoke Odor From The Air other stores may provide some level of protection from exposure to particles in smoke, as long as a close-fitting model and size is selected and they are used properly. One-strap paper masks, surgical masks, or other face coverings are likely to provide far less or no protection. 

In preparation for the fire season or a smoke event, it is a good idea to have enough food on hand to last several days, Remove Smoke Odor From The Air so that driving can be minimized. It is also important to have at least a five-day supply of medication for the same reason. Foods stored for use during the fire season should not require frying or broiling, since these activities can add particles to indoor air. 

Vacuuming (except with HEPA filter-equipped vacuums) should also be avoided, since most vacuum cleaners disperse very fine dust into the air. If smoke levels increase to very unhealthy or hazardous levels, Remove Smoke Odor From The Air it may be appropriate for some individuals to stay in a clean room in the home, relocate temporarily to a cleaner air shelter, or to leave the area entirely if it is possible and safe to do so. 

Particulate matter levels are measured as micrograms (μg) of particles per cubic meter of air. Most particle monitoring devices measure either particulate matter with a median diameter of 10 micrometers or less (PM10) or smaller particles with median diameters of 2.5 micrometers or less (PM2.5, Remove Smoke Odor From The Air also known as fine particles). 

Jurisdictions with particulate monitors, whether they are filter-based or continuous methods, will get a good idea of how bad the smoke was after the event. However, the goal is to relay information to the public in a timely manner, Remove Smoke Odor From The Air so they can make decisions about how to protect their health when the smoke levels are high. 

Continuous PM monitors give an instant reading of particulate matter concentrations and Remove Smoke Odor From The Air usually provide a number of averaging periods (e.g., one-hour and running 24-hour averages). Areas without continuous monitors may be able to get temporary, portable measuring devices through their state air quality program or the Forest Service. 

Many communities do not have access to continuous PM monitoring, and therefore need other ways to estimate particle levels. This is true even in areas which do have continuous monitors, Remove Smoke Odor From The Air because smoke concentrations can vary widely within a couple miles and can change rapidly. Visibility can sometimes serve as a good surrogate. 

In addition, a visibility index gives the public a quick way to assess smoke levels for themselves. When using the visibility index to determine smoke concentrations, Remove Smoke Odor From The Air it is important to:  Face away from the sun.  Determine the limit of your visibility range by looking for targets at known distances (miles). 

The visible range is the point at which even high-contrast objects (e.g., a dark forested mountain viewed against the sky at noon) totally disappear.  After determining visibility in miles, use Tables 2 and 3 to identify potential health effects and Remove Smoke Odor From The Air appropriate cautionary statements. At times, the visibility index may be hard to use, especially if specific landmarks at known distances are not available for judging visibility range, or at dawn or dusk. 

Furthermore, the above visibility categories for PM levels only apply in dry air conditions. For a given PM level, Remove Smoke Odor From The Air visibility decreases substantially at relative humidity above 65%, therefore, this method of estimation should not be used under conditions of high humidity. Work is being done to incorporate humidity as a factor in the visibility index, and will be included in this guide when it is available. 

For now, in humid conditions, individuals may have to rely on common sense in assessing smoke conditions (e.g., mild, moderate, heavy smoke) and Remove Smoke Odor From The Air the kinds of protective actions that might be necessary. At night or during periods when visibility cannot be used to estimate smoke levels, intense smoky odor can be used to indicate potentially harmful levels. 

Once a procedure is in place to determine current smoke levels, the next step is to predict future levels of smoke in a way that is useful to the public. Smoke events follow different patterns – some events have high smoke levels for a few hours a day, Remove Smoke Odor From The Air others have sustained smoke over a number of hours, and still others have elevated levels over a number of days. 

How the smoke behaves depends on a number of factors, such as how large and far away the fire is, topography, expected winds, and other weather conditions. There are a number of on-line resources to aid in making smoke predictions, including information about current wildfires, Remove Smoke Odor From The Air satellite images and the National Weather Service. These websites are listed under "Resources/Links" towards the end of this guide.

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