Alberta Wildfires & The Risk of Secondhand Smoke

Wildfire Smoke
In recent years, wildfires have become increasingly common and severe, leading to the release of harmful smoke and pollutants into the air. This has been especially true in Alberta in 2023 as of May there have been 1,067,000 hectares of forested area burned. The resulting wildfire smoke and air pollution can have a detrimental impact on the air quality in your home.

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Exposure to harmful chemicals in secondhand smoke can have long-term health effects and can put people at higher risk of diseases such as:

  • ear infections
  • heart disease
  • heart attacks
  • strokes
  • lung cancer
  • low birth weight
  • or even sudden infant death syndrome (sids)

Just to name a few of the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.

Here are some essential steps you can take to prevent and mitigate the effects of wildfire smoke.

Stay Informed

Stay updated on local air quality reports and active wildfires in your area as well as any fire restrictions in place. Pay attention to alerts and advisories issued by your local authorities or environmental agencies and monitoring stations. This information will help you make informed decisions about outdoor activities and take necessary precautions to protect your indoor air quality.

Seal Your Home

When wildfire smoke is present, it’s crucial to keep it from infiltrating your home as much as possible. Avoid opening windows and doors to prevent smoke from entering. Use weatherstripping and caulk to seal any gaps or cracks in windows, doors, and other openings where smoke can seep in.

Create a Clean Room

Designate a specific room in your home as a “clean room” where you can seek refuge from the smoky air. Ideally, choose a room with the fewest windows and doors. Seal any gaps or cracks in the room to minimize smoke infiltration. Place an air purifier in this room to further improve the air quality.

Limit outdoor Activities

During periods of heavy smoke, it’s advisable to limit physical exertion and outdoor activities. Engaging in strenuous activities can cause you to inhale more polluted air. Instead, focus on indoor activities that minimize the chances of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Maintain Proper Ventilation

While it’s important to keep windows and doors closed to prevent smoke from entering, it’s equally important to ensure proper ventilation within your home. Run your HVAC system on the recirculation mode to minimize outdoor air intake. However, avoid using fans that can draw in outdoor air, as it may contain smoke particles and will be poor poor air quality and will cause your whole home to be exposed to secondhand smoke

Regularly Replace HVAC Filters

Check and replace your HVAC system filters regularly, especially during wildfire seasons. Consider upgrading to high-efficiency filters that can capture smaller particles effectively. Clean filters help trap smoke particles and prevent them from recirculating in your home.

Clean your home

During periods of Severe Smoke and poor air quality, you will want to make sure to dust vacuum and clean inside your home more regularly to prevent thirdhand smoke. Thirdhand smoke refers to the residual chemicals and particles that can linger on surfaces and objects long after smoking has occurred. These residues can react with other compounds present in the environment and form potentially harmful substances. Understanding the risks associated with both secondhand smoke and thirdhand smoke is crucial for maintaining a healthy indoor environment and protecting the well-being of individuals, particularly vulnerable populations such as children and nonsmokers.

Follow Expert Guidelines

Consult with local health authorities or environmental agencies for specific guidelines and recommendations on protecting yourself from wildfire smoke. They can provide valuable information on how to safeguard your indoor air quality and mitigate the effects of smoke exposure.

Remember, it’s important to prioritize your health and safety during periods of intense wildfire smoke. take preventative action and consider making upgrades to your own air filtration systems in your home today by looking at some of Active Air Furnace and Duct Cleaning’s air cleaning products such as the Charged-Media Electronic Air Cleaner or UV Light Treatment Systems or even the Whole House Hepa Air Cleaner w/ UV Filter. If you or any family member experience severe respiratory symptoms or health issues due to the smoke, seek medical attention promptly.

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