Smoke Safety

Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases.

How to Tell if Smoke is Affecting You:

  • Chest pain
  • Coughing
  • Headaches
  • Irritated sinuses
  • Runny nose
  • Scratchy throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stinging eyes
Field Fire Smoke

Current Weather:


Smoke May Worsen Certain Health Conditions:

Heart disease

  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath

Lung conditions, such as respiratory allergies, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) also known as emphysema

  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to breathe normally
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath

Call your healthcare provider if your symptoms worsen or you need medical advice regarding your condition.

Are You at Risk?

  • If you have heart or lung disease, such as congestive heart failure, angina, COPD, emphysema, or asthma, you are at higher risk of having health problems than healthy people.
  • Older adults are more likely to be affected by smoke, possibly because they are more likely to have heart or lung diseases than younger people.
  • Children are more likely to be affected by health threats from smoke because their airways are still developing and because they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults. Children also are more likely to be active outdoors.

Protect Yourself

  • Pay attention to local air quality reports.
    Listen and watch for news or health warnings about smoke. A common measurement used to categorize the severity of the smoke in the air is the Environmental Protection Agency's Air Quality Index (AQI). Also pay attention to public health messages about taking additional safety measures.
  • Refer to visibility guides if they are available.
    Not every community has a monitor that measures the amount of particles that are in the air. In the western part of the United States, some communities have guidelines to help people estimate AQI based on how far they can see.
  • Keep indoor air as clean as possible.
    Keep windows and doors closed unless there is considerable smoke already in your home. Run an air conditioner if you have one, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside. If you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed, seek shelter elsewhere.
  • Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
    To reduce breathing problems. A HEPA filter may reduce the number of irritating fine particles in indoor air.
  • Do not add to indoor pollution.
    When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns, such as candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves. Do not vacuum, because vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home. Do not smoke, because smoking puts even more pollution into the air.
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