Tips for Staying Safe During Hazardous Air Conditions

KENNEWICK, WA-

As fires continue to burn in Washington, Oregon, and California, smoke has found its way into our communities.

Ben Shearer, Community Risk Reduction Specialist for Pasco Fire Department says it's not your average campfire smoke.

"There's power poles that get burned down, power lines, lots of plastics, lots of minerals, like I said, lots of landfills get consumed in these kinds of fires. So a lot of the smoke is not just wood smoke that people think it is," said Shearer.

The best place to be right now is indoors.

"Do what you can to keep your indoor air as clean as possible, keep those windows closed up," said Shearer.

Keeping your air clean and filtered is vital.

Cole Hubbard, Manager, at Chinook Heating & Air says the first thing to do is check your thermostat.

"The first thing I would do is go to your thermostat, if you've got one, and turn the fan set to on. A lot of people think the circulate mode works good enough but that only runs it for 15 minutes out of the hour," said Hubbard.

Cody Applegate is the Founder and Owner of Northwest Air Supply, and he says that this time of year the air is bad, with or without the fires.

"If we can be proactive and do something now, rather than waiting until it gets to us, then that could help prevent future health problems down the road," said Applegate.

When choosing an air filter, remember they are rated in numbers, which can mean different things.

"Some particles like we have today, they're very small. So if you go to Walmart, or Lowe's or Home Depot and get a filter, you want to make sure it has a MERV rating of 11 or higher," said Hubbard. "If you look at the MERV rating, 13 is really good, eight is not going to catch any smoke, even though its a good filter for dust and pollutants."

In the meantime, Ben says to limit time outdoors. He also tells me some fire crews have worked 14-21 days trying to put these fires out.

"Firefighters are out here doing everything they can to get these fires extinguished as much and fast as possible. But it's going to take some really good weather events to get this smoke lifted and off of us here in the state," said Shearer.

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