MISSOULA - With wildfire season starting in mid-July and August, now is the time to start preparing yourself and your family for wildfire smoke.
Although Montana is expected to have an average fire year with a potentially cooler and wetter summer than usual, Washington is predicted to have a bad fire year and they have already sent some of the worst out of state smoke.
Wildfire smoke in particular is bad because it is a mix of chemicals and fine particulate matter. The fine particulate matter is significant because it is so small that it can bypass your natural defenses to get deep into your lungs and even your blood stream.
The pollutant is particularly harmful to infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly and anyone with heart or lung disease.
"I think a lot of people have this idea that, oh wood is burning it's natural so it's not a big deal, but in fact there is a lot of bad pollutants anytime you light something on fire, particularly wood," said Sarah Coefield, air quality specialist.
People that spend an extended amount of time outside in wildfire smoke can experience difficulty breathing or worsening asthma attacks, but just going inside isn't going to cut it.
The best way to avoid these pollutants is making sure you create a clean air refuge and make sure your indoor air is as clean as possible. It is recommended that the clean air refuge be the bedroom because more time is spent there sleeping and the space is smaller and easier to keep clean.
This can be done by using a HEPA air filter and even limiting your use of candles and stove-top cooking. It is also recommended that you try to keep windows and doors closed as much as possible.
You can head to this link for more tips on beating wildfire smoke and how you can get prepared.