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Toll Free: 800-552-3565
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Wildfires typically occur during the warmer, drier summer months. As climate change worsens, we expect more wildfires and potentially more wildfire smoke making its way to the Puget Sound region.
Wildfire smoke carries the same health risks as wood smoke, except there’s much more of it. Smoke is full of small particles, which can be especially dangerous for sensitive groups — children and older adults and people that are pregnant, have heart or lung issues (such as asthma and COPD), or that have had a stroke.
Wildfire smoke can cause a range of health problems:
Although it is hard to predict if we will get wildfire smoke this year, you can still be prepared ahead of time.
Be Prepared for Wildfire Smoke:
Check with your doctor or medical professional in advance to create a plan for your family before wildfire smoke impacts our air quality.
When the air looks and smells smoky, it may not be the best time for activities outdoors. Use your best judgement.
Check the air quality forecast regularly by using either the activity tracker on our home page or by checking the air pollution monitor closest to you.
If you can’t stay cool at home or are especially sensitive to smoke, it may be best to seek shelter elsewhere.
Stay with friends or family who are not affected by the smoke.
Seek relief from the smoke in a large commercial building with air conditioning and good air filtration, like a "cooling center" (more information below).
To limit your time outdoors, stock up on necessities like food, medications, and other items you may need for your family.
A high-efficiency HEPA filter used in your air cleaner or HVAC system can help keep your indoor air clean.
You can also make a filter fan to help clean your indoor air. All you need is a box fan, furnace filter (MERV-13 or better), and a bungee cord or tape. Step-by-step instructions here.
Designate a room in your home to be a “clean room.” This room should have as few windows or doors as possible, or they should be closed, to keep smoke out. Use an indoor air cleaner or filter fan to make the room even cleaner. Find out more here.
If you have an air conditioner, close the fresh air intake if available so you can keep smoky air out of your home.
In the Community:
Know where the nearest “cooling center” is located. Cooling centers, like libraries or community centers, can be a good place to avoid smoky air. Visit WA Information Network 211 and search by your area for possible locations.
N95 or N100 rated masks can help protect you from air pollution, but aren't useful for everyone. They should only be used as a last resort. Please check with your doctor to see if this appropriate for you. More information here.
About Fire Safety Burn Bans
Fire safety burn bans are issued by county and city fire marshals, and DNR after periods of hot, dry weather when there is a danger of fire. Typically fire marshals will call a summertime stage 1 burn ban in July and it will stay in effect until there’s more rain in the fall. Always check with your county fire marshal and DNR before you light a fire to see if a burn ban is in effect.
Stage 1 fire safety burn ban: all outdoor burning is prohibited, except for recreational fires in approved devices and locations.
Stage 2 fire safety burn ban: all outdoor burning is prohibited, including recreational fires.
Visit www.waburnbans.net for information about burn bans by county.
About Air Quality Burn Bans
Air quality burn bans for King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties are issued by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. Historically these have been wintertime burn bans during colder months when weather inversions and calm winds are more common. Without strong winds, the air becomes stagnant and weather inversions trap the air closer to the ground. These conditions combined with an increase in wood burning make air quality burn bans necessary.
Starting in 2017, wildfire smoke created such a problem in the Pacific NW that Puget Sound Clean Air issued the first summertime air quality burn ban.
It is now possible that two burn bans by different agencies might be in effect at the same time. If air quality degrades and a fire marshal stage 1 burn ban is in place, it is possible that Puget Sound Clean Air Agency will issue an additional air quality burn ban.
Stage 1 air quality burn ban: No burning in uncertified wood stoves or inserts, or fireplaces. EPA certified devices and pellet stoves are allowed. No outdoor burning including recreational fires (campfires or bonfires), no charcoal barbecues or similar solid fuel devices.
Stage 2 air quality burn ban: No wood burning allowed, including pellet stoves and EPA certified devices. No outdoor burning including recreational fires (campfires or bonfires), no charcoal barbecues or similar solid fuel devices.
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