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Anna’s Recommended Reading: How to protect yourself and your home from wildfire smoke

November 16th, 2018

San Jose Mercury News

How to protect yourself and your home from wildfire smoke

Rose Meily

How to protect yourself and your home from wildfire smoke

Many families have been impacted by the Camp, Woolsey and Hill fires, as firefighters struggle to contain them. The Camp fire, which has been proclaimed the most destructive fire in California history, has already claimed more than 40 lives, and that number is expected to rise. More than 6,400 homes have been destroyed. The fires are affecting Bay Area residents who, due to the smoke from the fires, have been under air quality alerts for the past week.

“Our hearts go out to the victims of the fires. We have learned that many in our Realtor family are among the thousands of residents who have lost their homes,” said Bill Moody, president of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors.

Moody said the California Association of Realtors has a Disaster Relief Fund to help members of its Realtor family, staff and association members who have incurred losses due to the wildfires. C.A.R. has also sent information to Realtor members on how they can help those affected by the fire.

Moody called on consumers to take steps to protect themselves from the wildfire smoke. “Here in the Bay Area, the air quality has been very poor and it is affecting the health of many residents. Please heed the air quality alerts issued by the Bay Area Air District, as breathing the unhealthy air can be dangerous.” said Moody. “Older adults and children whose lungs are still developing, and people who have heart or lung diseases or asthma are at higher risk from wildfire smoke. Consult your health care provider right away if you are having breathing problems.”

The Silicon Valley Association of Realtors shares the following tips from various agencies, including the Center for Disease Control and Protection and the Environmental Protection Agency, to protect consumers and their home from wildfire smoke.

Pay attention to air quality alerts. Stay informed by visiting www.sparetheair.org, or better yet, sign up for Spare the Air Text Alerts by texting the word “START” to the number 817-57. You can also visit https://airnow.gov/, or download an air quality app.

Stay indoors with windows and doors closed. Now is not the time to do outdoor activities, like mowing, trimming bushes, or running.

Protect yourself from smoke. If you need to be outside, do not use a dust mask or bandana; instead, use a clean N95 mask or greater that fits snugly on your face.

Run the air conditioner. Keep your air conditioner’s fresh-air intake closed and make sure your air filter is clean. If you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed, seek shelter elsewhere.

Do not add to indoor or outdoor air pollution. Do not burn candles or use gas, propane, wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, or aerosol sprays. Do not fry or broil meat, smoke tobacco products, or vacuum. It is illegal for Bay Area residents and businesses to use their fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits or any other wood-burning devices during a Spare the Air Alert.

Create a clean air room. Designate a room in your home which has few windows. Set up a portable air cleaner there to reduce indoor air pollution.

Take it easy. Avoiding strenuous activities will help reduce the smoke you inhale.

Reduce smoke in your vehicle. When on the road, close your car windows and vents. Run the air conditioner in recirculate mode.

Moody also advises residents to visit the Santa Clara County Fire Department website at www.sccfd.org/rsg and learn about wildfire safety measures.

“You can never be sure about the future. We all should take preventive measures to protect our home and family from a wildfire,” said Moody.

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