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Is Wildfire Smoke Coming? Be Ready, Just In Case

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The air quality around the Northwest is gradually worsening with the increasing number of wildfires burning this week.

Health and air quality officials are urging people to be prepared in case the smoke becomes more prominent.

It isn’t clear yet whether the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene area will be socked in by wildfire smoke.

“We’re keeping close tabs on the fires that are happening in our state and hoping that people are preparing for smoke. It’s better to be prepared in case it hits us," said Lisa Woodard from Spokane County's Clean Air Agency.

The best way to do that, she says, is to stay inside and close your windows. It used to be that part of the advice was to go anywhere you could to get away from the smoke.

“In past years we could say, ‘Hey, hit the theater. Hit the museum. Go bowling.’ There were public locations that may have better air than what people were experiencing at home,” Woodard said.

But that’s not a good option in this Covid-ruled world.  

So the best practice this summer is to stay home and to clean your house so that the indoor air quality is the best it can be. Woodard suggests you could set up one room in your house to be super clean, maybe with a HEPA air filter.

“HEPA air cleaners aren’t super inexpensive. They’re going to run around $300 and so another option for people is a do-it-yourself box fan filter. There’s a video online, linked from our website, on putting together, fairly simply, a box fan filter using a Merv-rated 13 filter. You attach it to a box fan and you use that when you’re home and you shut it off at night," she said.

Woodard says the Spokane County Clean Air Agency has how-to links and videos at its website.