Wildfires in Southern California are tragically common during the fall. Even when your home isn’t in the path of a raging fire moving through dry brush, the smoke, soot, and other contaminants these fires bellow into the sky have a massive negative affect on air quality for many miles around. For areas downwind of the fires, air quality can be affected by up to a hundred miles.
How bad can the air quality get due to wildfires? Around 60 times worse than health standards, with particulates as high as 1,500 micrograms per cubic meter. To give you perspective on this, the threshold for healthy conditions according to the World Health Organization is 25 micrograms per cubic meter.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Indoor Air Quality
There are ways to reduce your family’s exposure to the harmful effects of wildfires on indoor air quality.
General household tips
There are simple steps to block out the ingress of harmful particles as well as the production of more. Close all the doors and windows. Don’t do activities that release more particles into the air: using gas or propane burning stoves, smoking cigarettes, frying food, spraying aerosol products, or vacuuming. Your house is going to be sealed against the outside for a stretch, and you want the indoor air as clean as possible as it recirculates.
Know what to do with your HVAC system
If your home has central heating and cooling, the HVAC system is responsible for circulating air around the house. This can be detrimental, but if you know what to do you can use the HVAC system to your advantage. Check if your HVAC system has a fresh air intake, i.e. it draws outdoor air into the system. If it does, shut it off and switch the system into recirculation mode.
The next step is to change the air filter. The standard air filter in the HVAC system isn’t designed to improve indoor air quality, but to protect the interior of the system. However, it can have a negative effect on air quality if it becomes filled with the harmful particles from the fires. Put in a new filter to give the house a fresh start.
Install air filters and air purifiers
This is a precaution to take before any wildfires strike. Professional HVAC technicians can outfit the ventilation system with powerful air filters (different from the filter already in place) that target the pollutants from fires. The professionals will make sure you don’t have a filter that’s too powerful and end up lowering air flow. They can also provide your home with electronic air purifiers that can clean the smaller particles that may get through the mesh of the filters. There is a wide range of different electronic air cleaners available.
We can help you improve your indoor air quality in Moreno Valley, CA. To help prepare for any wildfires, call us about the installation of air filters and air purifiers. We’ll find the solutions you need.
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