Coping with Wildfire smoke

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blackwhisker
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Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by blackwhisker »

Here in Northern California, we have had smoky air from wildfire for one month. It has only gotten worse started one week ago. I believe our usual fire season has not even started yet.

It is difficult to go outside. The air AQI Has been around 200 all week this past week. It is hard to breathe even indoors with air purifiers on.

I would like to get some suggestions if you are also a fellow sufferer of the wildfire smoke, or if you have suggestions.

-any ideas/suggestions to help kids get physical activities indoors at home? I can do it for a week or two, but it’s hard to keep it fun after one month.

-what kind of indoor activities are relatively Covid-safe outside one’s home? Pre-pandamic, our family used to spend a lot of time at gyms during fire seasons when smoke was bad

-where would be a reasonable place to go to get away from the smoke for a couple of weeks? I am in SF Bay Area. When I looked at the purple air web site, Las Vegas seems to be one of the closest places that has clean air. Is there anywhere closer than that? Which cities or towns are relatively easy to navigate during a pandemic? Hotels? Air b&b?

Thank you.
Last edited by blackwhisker on Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:06 am, edited 2 times in total.
livesoft
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by livesoft »

When I backpack in areas where there is or might be smoke, then I wear an N95 mask.
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Escapevelocity
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by Escapevelocity »

How about Idaho or Montana? Maybe rent a cheap house on Craigslist for a month. I would definitely go SOMEWHERE. No way I would want to breath smoke for weeks at a time.
TravelGeek
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by TravelGeek »

Here in the PNW we have been literally off the chart (400-500+) since last Thursday.

On Friday we decided to bug out and head east. We spent the weekend in Idaho with AQI in the 80s initially (so outdoor activity was possible) and 150 on Sunday (so we stayed in the hotel and enjoyed the clean/filtered air and gym/pool facilities). We are back now and will stay indoors to wait for the relief that is forecast for later this week.

I don’t have any specific recommendations; look at the various maps such as purpleair.com and https://aqicn.org/ and find something that is drivable and has a decent forecast. With covid there are additions considerations, but perhaps also additional flexibility for remote work.
livesoft wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:04 am When I backpack in areas where there is or might be smoke, then I wear an N95 mask.
Well, actual N-95 masks are probably still hard to find (and especially in areas affected by the fires and smoke).

I still have a couple of vented N-95s from previous fire seasons and they work well, but they wouldn’t last for several weeks. I also found that KN-95 masks ($2 a piece, available online) work reasonably well (smell test).
Last edited by TravelGeek on Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
squirm
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by squirm »

there isn't much else you can do. make sure everything is shut and get high quality hvac filters.

you're stuck, admit it and stay indoors why travel around during a pandemic?

my sister tells me who is in CA she sees morons out for a run in the morning in heavy smoke.
lightheir
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by lightheir »

squirm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:18 am there isn't much else you can do. make sure everything is shut and get high quality hvac filters.

you're stuck, admit it and stay indoors. it's no different when it's gets -10 here.

my sister tells me who is in CA she sees morons out for a run in the morning in heavy smoke.
Obviously you shouldn't run when the air quality is terrible, but to put things in perspective running in (lighter) smoke for a week ranks really low on the list of stupid and dangerous things to do!
livesoft
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by livesoft »

TravelGeek wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:16 amWell, actual N-95 masks are probably still hard to find (and especially in areas affected by the fires and smoke).

I still have a couple of vented N-95s from previous fire seasons and they work well, but they wouldn’t last for several weeks. I also found that KN-95 masks ($2 a piece, available online) work reasonably well (smell test).
Fortunately, I bought my masks more than a year ago when there were other wildfires happening. I imagine that folks will add to their natural disaster/emergency kits going forward rather than going backward.
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sailaway
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by sailaway »

We have engaged the HVAC for the first time in nearly two years. This way, we can close the windows and the filters are pulling out some of the junk. It has made a noticeable difference.

Also drink lots of fluids - water, water, water to wash the gunk down your throat.

For exercise, what do you like? My husband is doing an online yoga class as we speak. Mostly, for indoors we make liberal use of youtube - yoga with Adrienne, Fitness Blender for variety, including body weight exercises and calisthenics, all kinds of dance - dance fitness, dance classes, put some music on and wiggle....
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telemark
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by telemark »

After my experience last July 4, I bought a portable air quality monitor that's been very useful. More reliable than my nose and I can carry it from room to room to get an idea of what's going on. You may have ventilation leaks you aren't aware of.

For non-medical pollution masks, you can find good information and reviews at

https://breathesafeair.com/

The Cambridge Mask is probably still the best, though getting one now may be difficult.

But if you have the ability to go somewhere else, I would definitely choose that. Note that at times the plume has reached as far as Utah and Colorado. Interestly, it appears to go through Idaho and then head south. Or perhaps that's an artifact of measurement. There don't seem to be a lot of monitoring stations in Nevada.
sailaway
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by sailaway »

telemark wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 11:11 am After my experience last July 4, I bought a portable air quality monitor that's been very useful. More reliable than my nose and I can carry it from room to room to get an idea of what's going on. You may have ventilation leaks you aren't aware of.

For non-medical pollution masks, you can find good information and reviews at

https://breathesafeair.com/

The Cambridge Mask is probably still the best, though getting one now may be difficult.

But if you have the ability to go somewhere else, I would definitely choose that. Note that at times the plume has reached as far as Utah and Colorado. Interestly, it appears to go through Idaho and then head south. Or perhaps that's an artifact of measurement. There don't seem to be a lot of monitoring stations in Nevada.
It is just following the normal air flows. See also the extreme cold in the Texas panhandle last week.
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telemark
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by telemark »

For indoor activities you might try learning to juggle. I like hackey sacks since they tend to stay where they land but any small objects will do in a pinch. You can also do team activities where you toss things back and forth.
Panky
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by Panky »

Earlier on this month in the PNW there was an inversion, so if you could get above ~4000 ft in the mountains the smoke was not up high.

However that has changed locally as the smoke has now persisted long enough to penetrate that layer based on some pictures of friends hiking in the more alpine locations.
random_walker_77
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by random_walker_77 »

I might suggest building a couple of box fan filters. (Get a couple of 20" box fans for $20 a pop, get a couple high perf 3M filters rated for allergens, bacteria, and viruses, and tape a filter onto each fan)

People with particle counters have tested them and found that they're quite effective at cleaning the air.
https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/new ... /index.htm

This person tested multiple air cleaners in an area of the world where the particle counts are normally pretty high:
https://smartairfilters.com/cn/en/our-d ... fier-work/

[edit, I've got longer more detailed instructions here, including an inexpensive activated carbon pre-filter to remove odors: viewtopic.php?p=3126137#p3126137]

When air is extra dirty, like now with the wildfires, you just need more air filters, possibly concentrated into a single room.
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snackdog
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by snackdog »

Run your fan if not otherwise using HVAC. Check filters frequently.
hicabob
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by hicabob »

random_walker_77 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:38 pm I might suggest building a couple of box fan filters. (Get a couple of 20" box fans for $20 a pop, get a couple high perf 3M filters rated for allergens, bacteria, and viruses, and tape a filter onto each fan)

People with particle counters have tested them and found that they're quite effective at cleaning the air.
https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/new ... /index.htm

This person tested multiple air cleaners in an area of the world where the particle counts are normally pretty high:
https://smartairfilters.com/cn/en/our-d ... fier-work/

[edit, I've got longer more detailed instructions here, including an inexpensive activated carbon pre-filter to remove odors: viewtopic.php?p=3126137#p3126137]

When air is extra dirty, like now with the wildfires, you just need more air filters, possibly concentrated into a single room.
Clever idea ... but the filters are all out of stock at HD, Lowes and Amazon. I'll be ready for the next time though.
batpot
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by batpot »

can't do better (or cheaper) than a hepa furnace filter taped to a box fan.

When the air is clean, we use the outside air to cool our house.
So I taped some to one of my upstairs windows, and turned a fan on.
random_walker_77
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by random_walker_77 »

hicabob wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:55 pm
random_walker_77 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:38 pm I might suggest building a couple of box fan filters. (Get a couple of 20" box fans for $20 a pop, get a couple high perf 3M filters rated for allergens, bacteria, and viruses, and tape a filter onto each fan)

Clever idea ... but the filters are all out of stock at HD, Lowes and Amazon. I'll be ready for the next time though.
Check also at walmart, target, and costco. Costco members can get a 4 pack for $60 shipped, which is actually a decent price for the MPR 2200. In my experience, anything MPR 1500 or higher works pretty well for allergies and cooking odors (w/ a carbon prefilter) but not sure about wood smoke, though the package claims it filters smoke and viruses, to some extent anyways.
iamlucky13
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by iamlucky13 »

Part of the smoke in Washington and Oregon's lowlands is an inversion layer that is tending to keep the smoke at low elevation. Going to places at higher altitudes may be more comfortable.

We're running the AC a little bit and letting the house get warmer rather than opening windows. It hasn't bothered us enough to try to find a HEPA filter to circulate indoor air through, but I would think that should help a moderate amount. The AQI in our area has been bouncing between 200 and 300 for most of the last week.

Ironically, since our region's renewable are near their minimum production this time of year, and the backup is gas and coal generation, I guess that means to some degree my method of avoiding airborne particulates is causing more airborne particulates.
lightheir wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:22 am
squirm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:18 am my sister tells me who is in CA she sees morons out for a run in the morning in heavy smoke.
Obviously you shouldn't run when the air quality is terrible, but to put things in perspective running in (lighter) smoke for a week ranks really low on the list of stupid and dangerous things to do!
I've been looking for information on this to try to better understand what is meant when officials say a certain level is "unhealthy." As near as I can find, the current particulate concentrations on much of the west coast have been in the same ballpark as secondhand smoke exposure, but less than directly inhaling cigarette smoke.

It's clearly exposure that is preferable to minimize, especially for people with a high sensitivity to it or other health problems that may be exacerbated by smoke exposure, but calling someone a moron for getting exercise when they are presumably not one of the people with a high sensitivity to it (or else it's doubtful they would be running) seems over the top.

A few of the people I know definitely are affected by it and taking time off work. Some others appear to mainly be alarmed by the unclear information provided with the AQI numbers. Sure, air conditions labeled "unhealthy" merit some concern for everyone, but it seems like a lot of people who aren't experiencing symptoms are experiencing significant stress about a week of an unhealthy Air Quality Index, yet think nothing of spending all summer outdoors when the UV Index is at its analogous level.

I'm glad this is a rare occurrence. I also looked up some Bejing data out of curiosity. They deal with this level of particulate matter in the air numerous times per year.
RetiredAL
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by RetiredAL »

Escapevelocity wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:14 am How about Idaho or Montana? Maybe rent a cheap house on Craigslist for a month. I would definitely go SOMEWHERE. No way I would want to breath smoke for weeks at a time.
My DD in rural central MT said smoke is bad yesterday. Today, quite a few areas in MT currently show as unhealthy.

I'll ask my Son about central Idaho, but he's just coming off a fire line near Provo UT, so he's a bit biased as to what smokey really is to the rest of us.
TravelGeek
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by TravelGeek »

iamlucky13 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:55 pm I've been looking for information on this to try to better understand what is meant when officials say a certain level is "unhealthy." As near as I can find, the current particulate concentrations on much of the west coast have been in the same ballpark as secondhand smoke exposure, but less than directly inhaling cigarette smoke.

It's clearly exposure that is preferable to minimize, especially for people with a high sensitivity to it or other health problems that may be exacerbated by smoke exposure, but calling someone a moron for getting exercise when they are presumably not one of the people with a high sensitivity to it (or else it's doubtful they would be running) seems over the top.
When we “evacuated” last week to avoid the smoke, the AQI (depending on the site) was between 400 and 500 for our town. It looked like a post-apocalyptic scene out there. And yet we saw a jogger and a whole bunch of people sitting outdoors in a restaurant. To me that is pretty moronic behavior when the EPA calls those levels literally “hazardous”. Given that the fires not only burned a ton of trees but also entire towns (and lots of vehicles), we have literally no idea what particulates are in the smoke.

Our garbage company has suspended collection services to protects the employees. Pretty sure there is nothing to be gained, health-wise, by jogging under those conditions.
000
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by 000 »

TravelGeek wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:18 pm When we “evacuated” last week to avoid the smoke, the AQI (depending on the site) was between 400 and 500 for our town. It looked like a post-apocalyptic scene out there.
Would you mind sharing a little more what it looked like? Was the sky unusually colored? Could you actively see large amounts of smoke? Fire in the distance? Was breathing outside noticeably different? Thanks
hicabob
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by hicabob »

000 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:25 pm
TravelGeek wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:18 pm When we “evacuated” last week to avoid the smoke, the AQI (depending on the site) was between 400 and 500 for our town. It looked like a post-apocalyptic scene out there.
Would you mind sharing a little more what it looked like? Was the sky unusually colored? Could you actively see large amounts of smoke? Fire in the distance? Was breathing outside noticeably different? Thanks
From what I've seen, 400'ish is smoky enough that you can see the smoke in a large building (i.e. coscto) , it smells like a campfire, looks like fog, you drive with your lights on and the sun is at most a dull yellow ball in the sky if you can see it. Looks like early evening in the middle of the day. The sunlight that gets thru is yellowish which is sort of pretty but the novelty wears out after the first day.
Point
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by Point »

Carpinteria air quality has been generally quite good. For some reason the town gets a good onshore flow most of the time so it's quite nice! 43 Right now. Santa Barbara is 157. Ventura is 158. Please don't tell anyone about Carp ;-)
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unclescrooge
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by unclescrooge »

random_walker_77 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:38 pm I might suggest building a couple of box fan filters. (Get a couple of 20" box fans for $20 a pop, get a couple high perf 3M filters rated for allergens, bacteria, and viruses, and tape a filter onto each fan)

People with particle counters have tested them and found that they're quite effective at cleaning the air.
https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/new ... /index.htm

This person tested multiple air cleaners in an area of the world where the particle counts are normally pretty high:
https://smartairfilters.com/cn/en/our-d ... fier-work/

[edit, I've got longer more detailed instructions here, including an inexpensive activated carbon pre-filter to remove odors: viewtopic.php?p=3126137#p3126137]

When air is extra dirty, like now with the wildfires, you just need more air filters, possibly concentrated into a single room.
I use MERV 13 filters with my HVAC. I think 16 are medical grade.
surfstar
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by surfstar »

Point wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:41 pm Carpinteria air quality has been generally quite good. For some reason the town gets a good onshore flow most of the time so it's quite nice! 43 Right now. Santa Barbara is 157. Ventura is 158. Please don't tell anyone about Carp ;-)
https://www.ourair.org/todays-air-quality/
only gives Ozone for Carp
purple air shows Carp in the 150-160 PM range, same as Goleta/SB
https://fire.airnow.gov/?lat=34.4416173 ... 99&zoom=10

Sorry you're as bad as us ;) (I lived a couple years in Carp - was nice for sure)
whomever
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by whomever »

"Would you mind sharing a little more what it looked like? Was the sky unusually colored? Could you actively see large amounts of smoke? Fire in the distance? Was breathing outside noticeably different? Thanks"

When we were pushing 500, visibility was 400 yds, and my nose watered/eyes itched if I walked 50 ft to the car.

We're down to 300ish. It's hazy and stinks, but I can walk 100 yds down the drive to get the mail w/o discomfort.
iamlucky13
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by iamlucky13 »

TravelGeek wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:18 pm
iamlucky13 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:55 pm I've been looking for information on this to try to better understand what is meant when officials say a certain level is "unhealthy." As near as I can find, the current particulate concentrations on much of the west coast have been in the same ballpark as secondhand smoke exposure, but less than directly inhaling cigarette smoke.

It's clearly exposure that is preferable to minimize, especially for people with a high sensitivity to it or other health problems that may be exacerbated by smoke exposure, but calling someone a moron for getting exercise when they are presumably not one of the people with a high sensitivity to it (or else it's doubtful they would be running) seems over the top.
When we “evacuated” last week to avoid the smoke, the AQI (depending on the site) was between 400 and 500 for our town. It looked like a post-apocalyptic scene out there. And yet we saw a jogger and a whole bunch of people sitting outdoors in a restaurant. To me that is pretty moronic behavior when the EPA calls those levels literally “hazardous”. Given that the fires not only burned a ton of trees but also entire towns (and lots of vehicles), we have literally no idea what particulates are in the smoke.

Our garbage company has suspended collection services to protects the employees. Pretty sure there is nothing to be gained, health-wise, by jogging under those conditions.
I would wager the net health benefit of jogging in air that smoky is negative. The question I would like to find more clear information on is how negative. As negative as having a campfire? As negative as smoking a pack of cigarettes?

Saying something is "hazardous" and providing a list of generic short term symptoms doesn't tell me much. If low risk people only have short term symptoms, that's different than if there are long term symptoms, and if there are, I'd like to know how likely they are to occur for some level of exposure and duration.

Then I can weigh other factors like psychological and emotional benefits of activity against the health effects, knowing if it's in the same range of risks as other things I do, ranging from outdoor activities when the UV index is hazardous, to driving a car, to eating bacon, or more hazardous than other activities I would do.
iamlucky13
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by iamlucky13 »

Quick addition for the OP's question about where to consider going for cleaner air while you wait for home to clear out - here is an EPA map of approximate air quality index based on interpolating the data from the monitoring stations:
https://gispub.epa.gov/airnow/
TravelGeek
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by TravelGeek »

000 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:25 pm
TravelGeek wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:18 pm When we “evacuated” last week to avoid the smoke, the AQI (depending on the site) was between 400 and 500 for our town. It looked like a post-apocalyptic scene out there.
Would you mind sharing a little more what it looked like? Was the sky unusually colored? Could you actively see large amounts of smoke? Fire in the distance? Was breathing outside noticeably different? Thanks
hicabob described my experience quite accurately.
hicabob wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:34 pm From what I've seen, 400'ish is smoky enough that you can see the smoke in a large building (i.e. coscto) , it smells like a campfire, looks like fog, you drive with your lights on and the sun is at most a dull yellow ball in the sky if you can see it. Looks like early evening in the middle of the day. The sunlight that gets thru is yellowish which is sort of pretty but the novelty wears out after the first day.
We left town at 3pm. The sun should have been out, but it wasn’t even an orange ball as on previous days. The sky was yellow tinted. Cars all had their lights on. Visibility was maybe a two or three blocks Almost no pedestrians on the streets, and those I did see (except for the one jogger) were wearing masks.

I was wearing my emergency vented N-95 mask while walking to a neighbor’s house, and that worked quite well. Later I tried a KN-95 and it worked well, too (literally blocked almost all smell, which tells me that it makes a good seal). Without the mask, outside it smelled like a stinky campfire (we are at AQI 200 right now and it still smells quite bad, but a bit better). The smell (and smoke) comes inside the house through gaps you may have around the doors and air vents in the bathrooms. We keep our bathroom doors closed to limit the spread, but every time we walk in there it’s super stinky. You can suck it out with the bathroom fans, but they in turn cause outside smoky air to get sucked into the house from elsewhere.

If you don’t know how to turnoff the fresh air exchange system (assuming your HVAC system has one) you will get plenty of it into the house. Based on Nextdoor discussions I have seen this is a common problem for many neighbors. I found that our smart thermostat doesn’t control it, but there is an unlabeled button on the unit itself in the garage (thanks, Bryant online manual).

We are about sixty miles from the nearest fire, so no flames or smoke rising from actual fire visible from here. I have no (known) lung problems, but DW has asthma, so bugging out was a good choice for us. Once we made the decision, it took us 10 minutes to book a hotel, pack our bag and get the heck out of here.

Edit: here is a picture I took. Click to see bigger version. Traffic light is about a block away.

Image
Last edited by TravelGeek on Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
TravelGeek
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by TravelGeek »

iamlucky13 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:11 pm I would wager the net health benefit of jogging in air that smoky is negative. The question I would like to find more clear information on is how negative. As negative as having a campfire? As negative as smoking a pack of cigarettes?
Gov. Newsom yesterday said that the air quality in CA was the equivalent of smoking 20 packs of cigarettes. Obviously that comparison makes no sense since he didn’t mention any exposure time. I tried to find better data, but it seems there isn’t much comparative data, perhaps because scientists are hesitant to compare apples and oranges? (different chemicals, in the case of wild fires very much dependent on where you are and what actually burned)

This is one site that has made some comparisons. No vouching for the accuracy, but maybe it’s helpful.

http://berkeleyearth.org/air-pollution- ... lence-new/
palanzo
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by palanzo »

000 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:25 pm
TravelGeek wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:18 pm When we “evacuated” last week to avoid the smoke, the AQI (depending on the site) was between 400 and 500 for our town. It looked like a post-apocalyptic scene out there.
Would you mind sharing a little more what it looked like? Was the sky unusually colored? Could you actively see large amounts of smoke? Fire in the distance? Was breathing outside noticeably different? Thanks
Look online. There are plenty of pictures.
squirm
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by squirm »

They're vague about the long term impacts because they don't know either.
000
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by 000 »

TravelGeek wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:41 pm
000 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:25 pm
TravelGeek wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:18 pm When we “evacuated” last week to avoid the smoke, the AQI (depending on the site) was between 400 and 500 for our town. It looked like a post-apocalyptic scene out there.
Would you mind sharing a little more what it looked like? Was the sky unusually colored? Could you actively see large amounts of smoke? Fire in the distance? Was breathing outside noticeably different? Thanks
hicabob described my experience quite accurately.
hicabob wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:34 pm From what I've seen, 400'ish is smoky enough that you can see the smoke in a large building (i.e. coscto) , it smells like a campfire, looks like fog, you drive with your lights on and the sun is at most a dull yellow ball in the sky if you can see it. Looks like early evening in the middle of the day. The sunlight that gets thru is yellowish which is sort of pretty but the novelty wears out after the first day.
We left town at 3pm. The sun should have been out, but it wasn’t even an orange ball as on previous days. The sky was yellow tinted. Cars all had their lights on. Visibility was maybe a two or three blocks Almost no pedestrians on the streets, and those I did see (except for the one jogger) were wearing masks.

I was wearing my emergency vented N-95 mask while walking to a neighbor’s house, and that worked quite well. Later I tried a KN-95 and it worked well, too (literally blocked almost all smell, which tells me that it makes a good seal). Without the mask, outside it smelled like a stinky campfire (we are at AQI 200 right now and it still smells quite bad, but a bit better). The smell (and smoke) comes inside the house through gaps you may have around the doors and air vents in the bathrooms. We keep our bathroom doors closed to limit the spread, but every time we walk in there it’s super stinky. You can suck it out with the bathroom fans, but they in turn cause outside smoky air to get sucked into the house from elsewhere.

If you don’t know how to turnoff the fresh air exchange system (assuming your HVAC system has one) you will get plenty of it into the house. Based on Nextdoor discussions I have seen this is a common problem for many neighbors. I found that our smart thermostat doesn’t control it, but there is an unlabeled button on the unit itself in the garage (thanks, Bryant online manual).

We are about sixty miles from the nearest fire, so no flames or smoke rising from actual fire visible from here. I have no (known) lung problems, but DW has asthma, so bugging out was a good choice for us. Once we made the decision, it took us 10 minutes to book a hotel, pack our bag and get the heck out of here.

Edit: here is a picture I took. Click to see bigger version. Traffic light is about a block away.

Image
Yikes. Appreciate the picture. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Wishing well to all going through this.
User avatar
Tejfyy
Posts: 83
Joined: Mon Aug 26, 2019 9:18 pm

Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by Tejfyy »

I'm in SoCAL; we've got bad air too, I've closed the windows and only go out with a pollution mask on when I have to. My first coping mechanism has been utter outrage expressed in rants to friends who don't get offended by my vocabulary. We can't drink the water, now we can't breathe the air! Livin' the dream....Thank you every human being for creating this mess. etc...etc.

Confronting the enormity of the problem-that of global warming--the facts and predictions and our lived reality, helps me cope psychologically. I woke up this morning and went online to by a indoor trainer for my bike, reading that this fire season could extend an extra 75 days. I bike and walk everywhere as a way of life, as a politic, and for fitness.

Chop wood, carry water. That's how I'm getting through each day.

As for kids, I remember being stuck inside the house in winter, when there were real winters on the east coast. We would come up with all kinds of creative things to occupy ourselves. Play Monopoly for hours. I'm presently creating a mobile with paper clips I've been contorting while ranting on the phone.
Last edited by Tejfyy on Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
brokendirtdart
Posts: 197
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2017 8:27 pm
Location: USA!

Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by brokendirtdart »

squirm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:30 pm They're vague about the long term impacts because they don't know either.
The impacts are a whole lot worse for those that have lost their lives, been injured, had all their property burned to the ground, and for those that are currently trying to prevent that from happening to other people.

As far as the OP's question.
1. Suck it up. If we are in a place with a "fire season" vs "this is when the leaves change and the tourists come back season", we should have built up a little bit of resiliency and tolerance towards forest fire and smoke, whether that is controlled by those managing the forest or uncontrolled as we see now.
2. Multiple filter or purifier options out there and suggested in this thread.
3. Move. Permanent or temporary, your choice. "Fire season", yeah that would be a permanent move for me. If it is temporary, don't sweat your pandemic concerns unless you have at risk people in your traveling party. During my move last month it was obvious that hotels are mostly taking the state requirements and requirements of their companies seriously.

Me? I'm thinking of the people that have been killed by the direct impacts of the fire vs those hanging out breathing wood and undergrowth smoke. If it got unbearable, and I know it gets annoying as I've sucked it up for many weeks before, I would consider option 3 and there are tons of possibilities out there.
iamlucky13
Posts: 2027
Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:28 pm
Location: Western Washington

Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by iamlucky13 »

TravelGeek wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:47 pm
iamlucky13 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:11 pm I would wager the net health benefit of jogging in air that smoky is negative. The question I would like to find more clear information on is how negative. As negative as having a campfire? As negative as smoking a pack of cigarettes?
Gov. Newsom yesterday said that the air quality in CA was the equivalent of smoking 20 packs of cigarettes. Obviously that comparison makes no sense since he didn’t mention any exposure time. I tried to find better data, but it seems there isn’t much comparative data, perhaps because scientists are hesitant to compare apples and oranges? (different chemicals, in the case of wild fires very much dependent on where you are and what actually burned)

This is one site that has made some comparisons. No vouching for the accuracy, but maybe it’s helpful.

http://berkeleyearth.org/air-pollution- ... lence-new/
Intuitively, that seems like a reasonable comparison, and the author's method, although crude, has parallels with some more formal analyses. The conclusions are consistent with the warnings that the conditions are unhealthy, but not acutely so for most people. Experiencing these conditions regularly over the long term would certainly cause me to have significant concerns and try to make long term changes.

Speaking of which, I remember the first time my family visited Los Angeles in the 80's and learning about smog. Wow! Look at how much they have improved. The AQI measures I've been experiencing this week used to be an every other day occurrence on average for LA:
http://www.laalmanac.com/environment/ev01b.php
squirm
Posts: 2864
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 11:53 am

Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by squirm »

brokendirtdart wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:58 pm
squirm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:30 pm They're vague about the long term impacts because they don't know either.
The impacts are a whole lot worse for those that have lost their lives, been injured, had all their property burned to the ground, and for those that are currently trying to prevent that from happening to other people.

As far as the OP's question.
1. Suck it up. If we are in a place with a "fire season" vs "this is when the leaves change and the tourists come back season", we should have built up a little bit of resiliency and tolerance towards forest fire and smoke, whether that is controlled by those managing the forest or uncontrolled as we see now.
2. Multiple filter or purifier options out there and suggested in this thread.
3. Move. Permanent or temporary, your choice. "Fire season", yeah that would be a permanent move for me. If it is temporary, don't sweat your pandemic concerns unless you have at risk people in your traveling party. During my move last month it was obvious that hotels are mostly taking the state requirements and requirements of their companies seriously.

Me? I'm thinking of the people that have been killed by the direct impacts of the fire vs those hanging out breathing wood and undergrowth smoke. If it got unbearable, and I know it gets annoying as I've sucked it up for many weeks before, I would consider option 3 and there are tons of possibilities out there.
Yup. We've got family member friends who homes have been burnt down back in 17. I also helped evacuate a family member when I was visiting in 18.

Time to move for many people.
squirm
Posts: 2864
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 11:53 am

Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by squirm »

iamlucky13 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:16 pm
TravelGeek wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:47 pm
iamlucky13 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:11 pm I would wager the net health benefit of jogging in air that smoky is negative. The question I would like to find more clear information on is how negative. As negative as having a campfire? As negative as smoking a pack of cigarettes?
Gov. Newsom yesterday said that the air quality in CA was the equivalent of smoking 20 packs of cigarettes. Obviously that comparison makes no sense since he didn’t mention any exposure time. I tried to find better data, but it seems there isn’t much comparative data, perhaps because scientists are hesitant to compare apples and oranges? (different chemicals, in the case of wild fires very much dependent on where you are and what actually burned)

This is one site that has made some comparisons. No vouching for the accuracy, but maybe it’s helpful.

http://berkeleyearth.org/air-pollution- ... lence-new/
Intuitively, that seems like a reasonable comparison, and the author's method, although crude, has parallels with some more formal analyses. The conclusions are consistent with the warnings that the conditions are unhealthy, but not acutely so for most people. Experiencing these conditions regularly over the long term would certainly cause me to have significant concerns and try to make long term changes.

Speaking of which, I remember the first time my family visited Los Angeles in the 80's and learning about smog. Wow! Look at how much they have improved. The AQI measures I've been experiencing this week used to be an every other day occurrence on average for LA:
http://www.laalmanac.com/environment/ev01b.php
Isn't smog more harmful? I figure smoke has been around since the dawn, but not smog.
palanzo
Posts: 1253
Joined: Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:28 pm

Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by palanzo »

TravelGeek wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:47 pm
iamlucky13 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:11 pm I would wager the net health benefit of jogging in air that smoky is negative. The question I would like to find more clear information on is how negative. As negative as having a campfire? As negative as smoking a pack of cigarettes?
Gov. Newsom yesterday said that the air quality in CA was the equivalent of smoking 20 packs of cigarettes. Obviously that comparison makes no sense since he didn’t mention any exposure time. I tried to find better data, but it seems there isn’t much comparative data, perhaps because scientists are hesitant to compare apples and oranges? (different chemicals, in the case of wild fires very much dependent on where you are and what actually burned)

This is one site that has made some comparisons. No vouching for the accuracy, but maybe it’s helpful.

http://berkeleyearth.org/air-pollution- ... lence-new/
As you said the comparison makes no sense. Nobody is outside breathing this air for 24 hours without an N95 mask. Sadly the firefighters are but they are wearing N95 masks.
palanzo
Posts: 1253
Joined: Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:28 pm

Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by palanzo »

squirm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:18 pm
brokendirtdart wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:58 pm
squirm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:30 pm They're vague about the long term impacts because they don't know either.
The impacts are a whole lot worse for those that have lost their lives, been injured, had all their property burned to the ground, and for those that are currently trying to prevent that from happening to other people.

As far as the OP's question.
1. Suck it up. If we are in a place with a "fire season" vs "this is when the leaves change and the tourists come back season", we should have built up a little bit of resiliency and tolerance towards forest fire and smoke, whether that is controlled by those managing the forest or uncontrolled as we see now.
2. Multiple filter or purifier options out there and suggested in this thread.
3. Move. Permanent or temporary, your choice. "Fire season", yeah that would be a permanent move for me. If it is temporary, don't sweat your pandemic concerns unless you have at risk people in your traveling party. During my move last month it was obvious that hotels are mostly taking the state requirements and requirements of their companies seriously.

Me? I'm thinking of the people that have been killed by the direct impacts of the fire vs those hanging out breathing wood and undergrowth smoke. If it got unbearable, and I know it gets annoying as I've sucked it up for many weeks before, I would consider option 3 and there are tons of possibilities out there.
Yup. We've got family member friends who homes have been burnt down back in 17. I also helped evacuate a family member when I was visiting in 18.

Time to move for many people.
Very true. In CA this is the 5th bad fire season in a row.
palanzo
Posts: 1253
Joined: Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:28 pm

Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by palanzo »

squirm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:20 pm
iamlucky13 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:16 pm
TravelGeek wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:47 pm
iamlucky13 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:11 pm I would wager the net health benefit of jogging in air that smoky is negative. The question I would like to find more clear information on is how negative. As negative as having a campfire? As negative as smoking a pack of cigarettes?
Gov. Newsom yesterday said that the air quality in CA was the equivalent of smoking 20 packs of cigarettes. Obviously that comparison makes no sense since he didn’t mention any exposure time. I tried to find better data, but it seems there isn’t much comparative data, perhaps because scientists are hesitant to compare apples and oranges? (different chemicals, in the case of wild fires very much dependent on where you are and what actually burned)

This is one site that has made some comparisons. No vouching for the accuracy, but maybe it’s helpful.

http://berkeleyearth.org/air-pollution- ... lence-new/
Intuitively, that seems like a reasonable comparison, and the author's method, although crude, has parallels with some more formal analyses. The conclusions are consistent with the warnings that the conditions are unhealthy, but not acutely so for most people. Experiencing these conditions regularly over the long term would certainly cause me to have significant concerns and try to make long term changes.

Speaking of which, I remember the first time my family visited Los Angeles in the 80's and learning about smog. Wow! Look at how much they have improved. The AQI measures I've been experiencing this week used to be an every other day occurrence on average for LA:
http://www.laalmanac.com/environment/ev01b.php
Isn't smog more harmful? I figure smoke has been around since the dawn, but not smog.
Smog is a contraction of smoke and fog that dates from the early 1900s. But smog has been around since the dawn of time.
squirm
Posts: 2864
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 11:53 am

Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by squirm »

palanzo wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:29 pm
squirm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:18 pm
brokendirtdart wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:58 pm
squirm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:30 pm They're vague about the long term impacts because they don't know either.
The impacts are a whole lot worse for those that have lost their lives, been injured, had all their property burned to the ground, and for those that are currently trying to prevent that from happening to other people.

As far as the OP's question.
1. Suck it up. If we are in a place with a "fire season" vs "this is when the leaves change and the tourists come back season", we should have built up a little bit of resiliency and tolerance towards forest fire and smoke, whether that is controlled by those managing the forest or uncontrolled as we see now.
2. Multiple filter or purifier options out there and suggested in this thread.
3. Move. Permanent or temporary, your choice. "Fire season", yeah that would be a permanent move for me. If it is temporary, don't sweat your pandemic concerns unless you have at risk people in your traveling party. During my move last month it was obvious that hotels are mostly taking the state requirements and requirements of their companies seriously.

Me? I'm thinking of the people that have been killed by the direct impacts of the fire vs those hanging out breathing wood and undergrowth smoke. If it got unbearable, and I know it gets annoying as I've sucked it up for many weeks before, I would consider option 3 and there are tons of possibilities out there.
Yup. We've got family member friends who homes have been burnt down back in 17. I also helped evacuate a family member when I was visiting in 18.

Time to move for many people.
Very true. In CA this is the 5th bad fire season in a row.
Yeah, my cousin has lots of acreage with a lot of dead pines from the bark beetle. Talk about a matchbox.
squirm
Posts: 2864
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 11:53 am

Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by squirm »

palanzo wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:32 pm
squirm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:20 pm
iamlucky13 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:16 pm
TravelGeek wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:47 pm
iamlucky13 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:11 pm I would wager the net health benefit of jogging in air that smoky is negative. The question I would like to find more clear information on is how negative. As negative as having a campfire? As negative as smoking a pack of cigarettes?
Gov. Newsom yesterday said that the air quality in CA was the equivalent of smoking 20 packs of cigarettes. Obviously that comparison makes no sense since he didn’t mention any exposure time. I tried to find better data, but it seems there isn’t much comparative data, perhaps because scientists are hesitant to compare apples and oranges? (different chemicals, in the case of wild fires very much dependent on where you are and what actually burned)

This is one site that has made some comparisons. No vouching for the accuracy, but maybe it’s helpful.

http://berkeleyearth.org/air-pollution- ... lence-new/
Intuitively, that seems like a reasonable comparison, and the author's method, although crude, has parallels with some more formal analyses. The conclusions are consistent with the warnings that the conditions are unhealthy, but not acutely so for most people. Experiencing these conditions regularly over the long term would certainly cause me to have significant concerns and try to make long term changes.

Speaking of which, I remember the first time my family visited Los Angeles in the 80's and learning about smog. Wow! Look at how much they have improved. The AQI measures I've been experiencing this week used to be an every other day occurrence on average for LA:
http://www.laalmanac.com/environment/ev01b.php
Isn't smog more harmful? I figure smoke has been around since the dawn, but not smog.
Smog is a contraction of smoke and fog that dates from the early 1900s. But smog has been around since the dawn of time.
I was thinking that vehicle exhaust is more harmful then burning trees.
kacang
Posts: 197
Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2018 7:43 am
Location: CA

Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by kacang »

Fire season is a regular thing now. Our windows were kept closed and we stayed indoors as much as possible. Last year, we had N95 masks, but this year we used cloth masks with pockets for filter inserts. Each of us has a set of 7 PM2.5 reusable filters, for rotating through the week. I don't know if these filters work, but I couldn't smell the smoke when the mask is on and my asthma didn't act up
Tingting1013
Posts: 216
Joined: Mon Aug 24, 2020 5:44 pm

Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by Tingting1013 »

squirm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:37 pm
palanzo wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:32 pm
squirm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:20 pm
iamlucky13 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:16 pm
TravelGeek wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:47 pm

Gov. Newsom yesterday said that the air quality in CA was the equivalent of smoking 20 packs of cigarettes. Obviously that comparison makes no sense since he didn’t mention any exposure time. I tried to find better data, but it seems there isn’t much comparative data, perhaps because scientists are hesitant to compare apples and oranges? (different chemicals, in the case of wild fires very much dependent on where you are and what actually burned)

This is one site that has made some comparisons. No vouching for the accuracy, but maybe it’s helpful.

http://berkeleyearth.org/air-pollution- ... lence-new/
Intuitively, that seems like a reasonable comparison, and the author's method, although crude, has parallels with some more formal analyses. The conclusions are consistent with the warnings that the conditions are unhealthy, but not acutely so for most people. Experiencing these conditions regularly over the long term would certainly cause me to have significant concerns and try to make long term changes.

Speaking of which, I remember the first time my family visited Los Angeles in the 80's and learning about smog. Wow! Look at how much they have improved. The AQI measures I've been experiencing this week used to be an every other day occurrence on average for LA:
http://www.laalmanac.com/environment/ev01b.php
Isn't smog more harmful? I figure smoke has been around since the dawn, but not smog.
Smog is a contraction of smoke and fog that dates from the early 1900s. But smog has been around since the dawn of time.
I was thinking that vehicle exhaust is more harmful then burning trees.
Wood smoke is worse than vehicle exhaust

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018 ... -pollution
Escapevelocity
Posts: 162
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2019 8:32 am

Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by Escapevelocity »

For folks who have the means to do so, it seems like a no-brainer to flee the area for couple weeks at least.
Caligal
Posts: 76
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2014 4:28 pm

Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by Caligal »

brokendirtdart wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:58 pm
As far as the OP's question.
1. Suck it up. If we are in a place with a "fire season" vs "this is when the leaves change and the tourists come back season", we should have built up a little bit of resiliency and tolerance towards forest fire and smoke, whether that is controlled by those managing the forest or uncontrolled as we see now.


brokendirtdart

Just a heads up that "those managing the forest" are, for the most part, the federal government (58%) followed by tribal lands, companies and private individuals. The state owns 3% of the 33 million acres of forest in California.

And yes, we thank and praise the firefighters for working day and night for the past month on these tragic and horrible fires. I would not think of telling the people in the Gulf states of LA, MS, AL and FL to "suck it up" this week.
Last edited by Caligal on Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
palanzo
Posts: 1253
Joined: Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:28 pm

Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by palanzo »

squirm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:36 pm
palanzo wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:29 pm
squirm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:18 pm
brokendirtdart wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:58 pm
squirm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:30 pm They're vague about the long term impacts because they don't know either.
The impacts are a whole lot worse for those that have lost their lives, been injured, had all their property burned to the ground, and for those that are currently trying to prevent that from happening to other people.

As far as the OP's question.
1. Suck it up. If we are in a place with a "fire season" vs "this is when the leaves change and the tourists come back season", we should have built up a little bit of resiliency and tolerance towards forest fire and smoke, whether that is controlled by those managing the forest or uncontrolled as we see now.
2. Multiple filter or purifier options out there and suggested in this thread.
3. Move. Permanent or temporary, your choice. "Fire season", yeah that would be a permanent move for me. If it is temporary, don't sweat your pandemic concerns unless you have at risk people in your traveling party. During my move last month it was obvious that hotels are mostly taking the state requirements and requirements of their companies seriously.

Me? I'm thinking of the people that have been killed by the direct impacts of the fire vs those hanging out breathing wood and undergrowth smoke. If it got unbearable, and I know it gets annoying as I've sucked it up for many weeks before, I would consider option 3 and there are tons of possibilities out there.
Yup. We've got family member friends who homes have been burnt down back in 17. I also helped evacuate a family member when I was visiting in 18.

Time to move for many people.
Very true. In CA this is the 5th bad fire season in a row.
Yeah, my cousin has lots of acreage with a lot of dead pines from the bark beetle. Talk about a matchbox.
Your cousin should clear all the dead pines! That's why the state is burning. No one has cleared the forests for 50+ years and Cal Fire is on record for this.
palanzo
Posts: 1253
Joined: Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:28 pm

Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by palanzo »

squirm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:37 pm
palanzo wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:32 pm
squirm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:20 pm
iamlucky13 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:16 pm
TravelGeek wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:47 pm

Gov. Newsom yesterday said that the air quality in CA was the equivalent of smoking 20 packs of cigarettes. Obviously that comparison makes no sense since he didn’t mention any exposure time. I tried to find better data, but it seems there isn’t much comparative data, perhaps because scientists are hesitant to compare apples and oranges? (different chemicals, in the case of wild fires very much dependent on where you are and what actually burned)

This is one site that has made some comparisons. No vouching for the accuracy, but maybe it’s helpful.

http://berkeleyearth.org/air-pollution- ... lence-new/
Intuitively, that seems like a reasonable comparison, and the author's method, although crude, has parallels with some more formal analyses. The conclusions are consistent with the warnings that the conditions are unhealthy, but not acutely so for most people. Experiencing these conditions regularly over the long term would certainly cause me to have significant concerns and try to make long term changes.

Speaking of which, I remember the first time my family visited Los Angeles in the 80's and learning about smog. Wow! Look at how much they have improved. The AQI measures I've been experiencing this week used to be an every other day occurrence on average for LA:
http://www.laalmanac.com/environment/ev01b.php
Isn't smog more harmful? I figure smoke has been around since the dawn, but not smog.
Smog is a contraction of smoke and fog that dates from the early 1900s. But smog has been around since the dawn of time.
I was thinking that vehicle exhaust is more harmful then burning trees.
Your lungs don't know the source of the particulates.
palanzo
Posts: 1253
Joined: Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:28 pm

Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by palanzo »

Escapevelocity wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:01 pm For folks who have the means to do so, it seems like a no-brainer to flee the area for couple weeks at least.
And deal with COVID 1000 miles away?
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