Clean Air Advocates Encourage People To Prepare For Summer Wildfire Smoke

Jun 14, 2021

A Washington Department of Ecology video instructs people how to make an air filtering device using a household box fan.
Credit Washington Department of Ecology screenshot

Wildfire season is upon us and clean air agencies are encouraging you to prepare now in case smoke wafts into your area this summer.

Stephanie May says her agency, the Spokane Clean Air Agency, and several others have declared this Smoke Ready Week.

“We are definitely preparing for the worst, making sure that our community knows how to prepare and making sure that all of the other agencies that we work with have good messaging and know how to communicate with the population about how to minimize their risk if and when wildfire smoke does impact our area," she said.

As it did last Labor Day weekend when smoke choked the air throughout much of the Inland Northwest.

“You should know how to keep your home as clean as possible so when we do have wildfire smoke you would turn your air conditioner on to recirculate, instead of fresh air input. For those that are looking to make their own air cleaner, there are some really good tutorials on Ecology’s website," May said.

“Lay a 20” box fan face down," said a Department of Ecology video. "Put a 20” furnace filter with a Merv rating between 11 and 14 on the back of the fan where the air comes in, with the flow arrows pointing to the front. Hold the filter in place with a bungee cord and that’s it. Use it in a small room with the windows and the doors closed. As the same air keeps moving through the filter, it captures more and more harmful particles. Don’t put it in an open window, it will pull in more bad air. Tests have shown that tiny particles in the room are greatly reduced using this fan and filter. Check and change the filter when it gets dirty. The filter may make the fan work harder and get hot, so turn it off when you’re not home.”

May says each day this Smoke Ready Week will have a specific theme. For example, on Tuesday, the agencies will focus on what’s in wildfire smoke.

“We’re talking about those microscopic particles and what that means for air quality. On Wednesday, it’s specific to wildfire smoke and your health, who is most at risk from smoke. We know that smoke is bad for everyone to breathe, but there are going to be certain populations that can be impacted even more severely," May said.

You can read more at the Spokane Clean Air Agency and Department of Ecology websites.