What to do when it’s smoky outside

As communities around Washington are challenged by wildfires, smoke, and unhealthy air quality, we’re here to help you and your family.

At this time, none of our medical facilities have been impacted by the fires in our state. All continue to have regular operating hours. We’re continuously monitoring the impact of outdoor smoke on indoor air quality at all our facilities, and we’re taking steps to help ensure good air quality.

Protect yourself from wildfire smoke

It’s important to take precautions to stay healthy if you or your family members are being impacted by smoke and the current fires. Smoke from the fires is unhealthy for everyone, but it’s especially dangerous for people with respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. To check air quality in your area, go to AirNow Index.

Precautions for everyone inside:

  • Stay indoors and keep your doors and windows closed (unless instructed otherwise).
  • Run an air conditioner if you have one, but keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside.
  • If you have a forced air furnace, set the fan to run continuously instead of ‘auto’. Check your filter and change it if needed. Use a filter with the highest MERV value that works with your system.
  • Use fans in each room to help move the air in your house.
  • Avoid cooking foods that generate smoke (broil, frying, and similar).
  • Do not vacuum as this can stir up a lot of particulates.
  • Avoid using gas stoves as they contribute to indoor air pollution.
  • Do not burn anything in the house, such as wood, natural gas fireplace, or candles.

Precautions for everyone in the car:

  • Keep the windows up, if possible.
  • Maximize the air quality by selecting the ‘recirculate air’ option.

Precautions for those with respiratory conditions:

  • Use your long-term control medications (like Alvesco or Advair) as prescribed.
  • Use “quick relief” inhalers to help with shortness of breath.
  • If you have oxygen, use it if you have difficulty breathing.

If you have difficulty breathing and would like medical advice, call our 24/7 Consulting Nurse Service at 1‑800‑297‑6877. If you think you have a medical emergency, call 911 for assistance.

About face masks

There are some important differences between masks that protect you from smoke and those that protect you and others from COVID-19.

  • Adults may benefit from using a snug-fitting non-medical, industrial N95 mask or P100 mask if they have one and must be outdoors. N95 masks without vents will help protect you from the smoke and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. N95 masks with vents will protect you from unhealthy air but will not prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Cloth masks and face coverings that help slow the spread of COVID-19 aren’t effective for smoke.
  • We don’t recommend children wear N95 masks. N95s aren’t made for children and may not fit properly. They won’t protect children from smoke. Masks and cloth face coverings also can obstruct breathing in babies and young children. It’s best to keep children indoors to reduce smoke exposure.

Getting help and medications in an emergency

If you are directly impacted by fires and need to evacuate, remember to take your medications with you. If you are unable to do so, please reach out to us and we can help you get an emergency supply. Contact our Consulting Nurse Service at 1‑800‑297‑6877. We’re also here to help you with any health concerns. We have many ways for you to get care, virtually and in-person.
We know that most of you are dealing with many challenges during this time. Your health and safety remain our top priority.

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