What to do About Wildfire Smoke Inhalation


Firefighters fighting fire

Sonoma County continues to be ravaged by wildfires. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected. We encourage you to continue monitoring fire and smoke reports. Furthermore, we recommend you limit your exposure to wildfire smoke and detox after any smoke exposure.

The following post outlines the perils of wildfire smoke, how to stay informed, and what to do after to maintain your long-term health. 

Why is Wildfire Smoke so Dangerous?

Smoke is a complex mixture of dangerous chemicals, including:

  • Carbon dioxide
  • Water vapor
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Particles
  • Nitrogen oxides
  • Trace minerals

While wildfire smoke is a “natural” occurrence, the burning vegetation often includes other products, such as plastics and chemical constituents. This places even more dangerous particles in the air as fine particles.

It is the fine particles that pose such a serious health risk. Due to their small nature, fine particles can be easily inhaled deeply into the lungs. This can cause a variety of repertory problems, including:

  • Coughing
  • Phlegm
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing

Because of the difficulty placed on breathing, inhaling wildfire smoke can also place stress on your heart and other organs. And, it can make it difficult for your body to deal with other air contaminants, such as pollen and germs. 

What’s the Smoke Level in Your Area?

The California Resources Board helps protect air quality through Air Pollution Control Districts (APCD) and Air Quality Management Districts (AQMD). Each APCD is listed on this map. Select your district to find the current air quality and find out of any smoke advisories or alerts have been issued.

You can also find air quality reports through AirNow, a multi-agency website run by the Environmental Protection Agency. This site is also a good resource for tracking active fires and the path of smoke plumes.

Happy family on the couch
Staying inside with the windows and doors closed is one of the best ways to protect you and your loved ones. But rather than let it feel like jain, find fun ways to spend time together, like game night or family movie night.

How can you reduce exposure to wildfire smoke?

To reduce your exposure to wildfire smoke, stay indoors with the windows and doors shut. You’ll also want to avoid adding to the indoor pollution. This means:

  • Don’t smoke cigarettes
  • Avoid using propane or wood-burning stoves
  • Don’t broil and fry food
  • Don’t burn candles or incense
  • Skip vacuuming 

You might also consider running portable air cleaners equipped with HEPA filters. These can reduce indoor air particle levels.

Furthermore, reducing physical activity during heavy smoke can help you reduce exposure. During increased physical exertion, we breathe in 10 – 20 times more air than when we’re at rest. This can bring more pollution into your lungs.

Reduce physical activity during a smoke event until you can get to a safe location. During exercise, people increase their air intake as much as 10 to 20 times, which can bring more pollution deep into the lungs.

Will a Mask Help Protect You from Wildfire Smoke?

It’s important to remember that the danger of wildfire smoke inhalation isn’t in the big particles you can see with the naked eye. It’s the small particles. Surgical masks, dust masks, and bandanas do not protect you from these small particles. 

However, some masks have been shown to help effectively reduce exposure to smoke particles, including respirator masks. Masks labelled NIOSH N95 or P100 have also been shown to help filter particles for adults. But, these masks must fit properly to be effective and may not fit small children.

You’ve Been Exposed to Wildfire Smoke, Now What?

Practice Good Food Safety

Due to the fires, many individuals lost power for extended periods of time. Lack of refrigeration can quickly cause food to spoil. The mantra, “if in doubt – throw it out,” is always a good practice. 

In addition to discarding any foods or beverages that have spoiled, you’ll want to consider their exposure to heat, smoke, and soot. In addition to breathing in smoke particles, eating them when they become lodged in food can be equally dangerous.

Furthermore, be sure to check with your doctor before consuming any medications that have been exposed to heat. Heat can alter the chemical composition of some medications, even over-the-counter ones. So it’s best to be sure before taking them.

Happy older couple
Once the air has cleared, take the time to restore your health. Get outdoors. Practice good detox protocols like drinking lots of water. And, enjoy life!

Start a Wildfire Smoke Detox Program

“Detoxing” after wildfire smoke can help flush the harmful fine particles from your body. One of the most important steps you can take is to greatly increase your water consumption. Staying well-hydrated helps flush these particles so that they don’t become lodged in your tissues and organs.

IV drip therapy can also help your body cleanse unwanted foreign matter by infusing it with key vitamins and minerals it needs to function. Breathing in steam with thyme is another natural way to expel foreign substances. 

Get our complete list of natural ways to detox after wildfire smoke inhalation.

Restore Your Living Space’s Health

In addition to detoxing your body, you’ll want to take the time to detox your home. Even with keeping the windows and doors shut, fine particles will find their way inside. This means after the wildfire smoke has cleared, you’ll want to open the doors and windows to air out your home.

Now is the time to thoroughly sweep and vacuum. Don’t be surprised if you go through more than one vacuum filter. You’ll also want to clean or replace your home’s air filters. And, you may consider wiping down the walls, as particles can even stick to them.

Dusting will also be extremely important, as particles will likely have gathered on all your surfaces. It may be that you’ll need to dust more than once in the coming days, as the cleaning fill likely kick up additional particles. Furthermore, be sure to thoroughly wash all sheets, towels, and clothes to remove as many contaminants as possible.

Get Help with Wildfire Smoke Detox

From vitamin injections to a holistic diet, your naturopathic medical team can help you create a plan to restore your health.

Schedule a Consolation

Additional Smoke Inhalation Detox Tips

Smoke Inhalation Symptoms and How to Treat Smoke Inhalation

Worried how smoke inhalation symptoms are affecting your health? Watch for these common symptoms. Plus, easy detox methods to use right now. Drink water. Stay indoors. Keep exercising (at the gym).

Fire Season Started. Are You Prepared to Prevent Smoke Inhalation?

Wildfire season is beginning soon. How can you prepare for potentially smoky skies? The following tips outline steps you can take now and after exposure to help your body recover and thrive. Learn more here!

How IV Drip Helps with Smoke Detox

Are you still struggling with the agonizing health effects of wildfire smoke inhalation? IV Drip therapy can help you detox and jumpstart your recovery.

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