Here in the PNW, late summer and early fall always brings smoky air which can be a real problem for those with pre-existing respiratory conditions. The thick smoke in the air can make it difficult to breathe, leading to discomfort and potential health risks. It is important to take extra precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones from the effects of smoky summer weather.
Seniors and people with chronic conditions should take extra care to monitor their breathing and stay indoors when possible. People with asthma, chronic bronchitis, or other respiratory conditions should stay indoors and avoid outdoor activities when air quality is poor. Children and pregnant women should be aware of potential health risks associated with the smoke and take precautions to limit exposure. Anyone with heart or lung disease, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems should pay special attention to air quality and take extra precautions to protect themselves. Outdoor workers or athletes should limit their outdoor activities when air quality is poor.
It is important to be aware of air quality and take the necessary measures to ensure your safety. By taking the necessary precautions, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from the effects of smoky weather.
1. Take It Easy
First and foremost, stay indoors as much as possible. Working from home or taking a break from outdoor activities can help you avoid the smoke. This can be a real bummer, but it's the easiest way to stay away from smoky air.
Make sure your house doesn't have a ton of points where smoke can creep in. Check to make sure the seals on your windows and the bottoms of doors are solid and well-fitted. This can be handy for maintaining an even temperature in your home without excessive AC or heater use, thus making your home more sustainable.
2. Use a Portable Air Cleaner
Hot summer days can be difficult to cope with, especially when smoky air is added into the mix. The smoke created by wildfires and other sources can make the air quality worse and cause health problems.
One way to cope with smoky summer weather is to invest in a portable air cleaner. Portable air cleaners are small machines that trap particles like smoke, dust, and allergens in the air. The particulate matter in wildfire smoke can be very hazardous, so it's important to make sure you invest in a purifier that will do it's job. Portable purifiers can be easily moved from room to room and require minimal maintenance. Portable air cleaners are energy efficient and use filters to clean the air. This helps reduce indoor air pollution and can improve air quality in a room, making in more pleasant and safe to spend time inside.
Not only is it an efficient way to reduce the effects of smoky air, but it is also an affordable option for those looking to improve air quality in their home. Folks who have increased susceptibility to respiratory infections and smoke sensitivity symptoms will appreciate a good air purifier. The degree of filtration will be important if you want your purifier to make a significant difference. We love the Molekule purifier (not a sponsorship or affiliate, jut genuinely like this air purifier).
3. Seek Comfortable Spaces In the Community
The smoke brought on by wildfires as a result of climate change is a relatively new phenomenon and is somewhat unpredictable. However, after a few seasons of experiencing smokey air, you'll likely be tired of just passing time holed up in your house.
One way to cope with smoky summer weather is to seek out designated public spaces such as libraries, malls, coffee shops or shopping centers with air conditioning. These spaces can provide much-needed relief from the heat and smoky air. Additionally, look for places like community centers, churches, or schools that may host free events with air conditioning, purifiers or fans.
Another option is to take advantage of places like movie theaters, museums, and other indoor attractions that offer a respite from the heat and something interesting to do. Movie theaters tend to be cool and comfortable and offer a great way to relax and take a break from the smoky air. Museums and other attractions can also provide a great escape from the heat and smoky air.
4. Consider Wearing a Protective Mask
In smoky conditions, it is important to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from the smoke and other pollutants in the air. Having a wildfire smoke headache, difficulty breathing, inflammation or a sore throat are not uncommon results of the environmental pollution that occurs during fire season. Some older adults or folks with respiratory diseases may even need to seek medical attention. One of the best ways to protect yourself is to wear a protective mask.
Nobody likes wearing masks, but we all learned during the COVID-19 pandemic that they are effecitve in keeping particulate matter and bacteria out of our lungs. When looking for a mask, it is important to find one that is actually effective. You can use a cloth mask, but if you have respiratory challenges, find a mask labeled as N95 or P100. These ratings indicate that the mask will filter out the smallest particles in the air. It is also important to make sure that the mask fits snugly on your face so that the air you breathe is filtered properly. It is a good idea to have more than one mask so that you can rotate between them and keep them clean. Be sure to change the mask often, especially if it is damp or dirty. It is also important to remember to never share your protective mask with someone else.
By taking the necessary precautions and wearing a protective mask, you can help reduce your exposure to smoke and other pollutants in the air during the smoky summer months.
5. Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking plenty of water is one of the best ways to cope with smoky air, as it helps to flush out toxins and other pollutants that you breathe in. Keeping your body hydrated can also help to reduce the impact of smoky air on your respiratory system and prevent dehydration, which can lead to fatigue and other health problems. It is important to drink enough water each day depending on your body weight and activity level in order to ensure that you are getting the required amount. Make sure to carry a water bottle with you when you go outside during smoky summer days, so that you can stay hydrated and protect yourself from the effects of smoky air.
By taking the steps to stay hydrated, you can help to reduce the effects of smoky air and protect your health. By drinking plenty of water each day, you can flush out toxins and pollutants that can cause health problems, and stay hydrated to reduce the impact of smoky air on your body. Stay safe this summer by making sure to drink enough water and protect yourself from smoky air.
6. Workout inside
Summertime can be a great time to get out and enjoy the warm weather, but when smoke from wildfires is in the air it can be difficult to cope and dangerous. However, the answer isn't to stop being active just because paddleboarding, bike rides or your favorite outdoor activity isn't wise. Exercise increases lung health and provides important endorphins that can help us cope during climate disasters like wildfires.
One option is to go to a gym or fitness center with air conditioning and air purifiers. Many gyms and fitness centers have air conditioning to keep members comfortable while they work out. This can be a great way to get a good workout in without having to worry about the air outside.
Yoga or Pilates can also be a great way to get in a good workout while avoiding smoky air. You can do yoga or Pilates in the comfort of your own home with the windows closed and your air purifier right next to your mat. This can be a great way to stay cool and safe while still getting in a good workout and increasing respiratory health.
7. Use essential oils for lung health
One of the best ways to support lung health during smoky summer weather is to use essential oils. Diffusing essential oils can help clear the air and provide respiratory support. Eucalyptus, fennel, peppermint, and tea tree oils are especially helpful for supporting lung health. Inhaling these oils through a diffuser can help clear the air of smoke and other toxins. Massaging a few drops of essential oil onto the chest with a carrier oil like jojoba or coconut oil can also help support lung health. Adding a few drops of essential oil to a warm bath, or the base of the shower outside of the flow of water can also help clear the air and support lung health. My husband and I keep a spray bottle with water and fennel essential oil in the shower and mist the air to help maintain respiratory health.
Smoke, Air Pollution, and Our Skin
It's not just our lungs that are affected by the smoke, our skin can be impacted as well.
It is important to stay hydrated to help keep your skin moisturized and healthy. After being outside, wash your skin with a gentle cleanser to help remove any pollutants that may have been absorbed while outdoors. Finish off with a moisturizer with SPF to help protect your skin from the sun and the smoke.
If you have any skin conditions that may be exacerbated by smoky air, talk to your doctor about how to best manage it. It is important to take the necessary precautions to keep yourself and your skin healthy during smoky summer weather.