Updated August 2023

Last month, the Walker Fire near Susanville burned through almost 55,000 acres of Northern California land, becoming the biggest forest fire in 2019. Fires like the Walker Fire and countless others contaminate the air for miles, filling it with toxic particles that can infiltrate our lungs and cause serious health issues. As residents of Northern California, it’s necessary to limit our exposure to dangerous, toxic particles from wildfires, while taking active measures to clean our indoor air during fire seasons.
Experts predict that Santa Ana winds will ramp up wildfires between October and December of 2019, which means that fire season is just beginning. In this article, our expert HVAC technicians from Environmental Heating & Air Solutions will reveal the dangers of toxic smoke in the air, and share some important air purification tips to improve your home’s indoor air quality during fire season in Northern California.

What Are the Dangers of Smoke Exposure Inside the Home?

Smoke exposure can be dangerous to your family’s health, especially for those with allergies, asthma, heart problems, or lung disease, and also children, teenagers, and pregnant women.

While some people are more susceptible to suffering from symptoms than others, everyone can be affected by toxic air particles inside the home. Some of the symptoms of smoke exposure are similar to allergies, like watery, itchy eyes, sore throat, a runny nose. Symptoms can also present themselves as fatigue, coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

Other symptoms that could signify low air quality inside the home are chest pains, heart palpitations, and inflammation of the respiratory tract. In serious cases, bad air quality from forest fires can cause asthma attacks or heart attacks, which can lead to death.

Tips to Improve the Air Quality Inside the Home

While we’re unfortunately not able to stop wildfires from raging through California’s forests, we can take measures to limit the toxic particles that enter our home during a fire. Here’s a list of things you can do to help keep your home’s indoor air as clean and pure as possible.

1. Stay Informed

Follow your area’s news report or official sites like airquality.org or airnow.gov to see where fires are burning and how this might affect your area. These sites will tell you what the status is in regard to wildfires near you, and will also provide a rating of the air quality in your city or town. The rating can range from good to hazardous and will provide additional information you need to know based on the rating. Keeping informed will help you to take the right measures to protect your home and family’s health.

2. Close Your Windows

This might seem obvious, but closing your windows and doors when the air quality is moderate to hazardous will help to maintain a healthy indoor environment. This is also why it’s so important to stay informed about the air quality in your area, as this simple yet effective action can reduce your risk of breathing in contaminated air.

3. Upgrade Your HVAC Filter

For households with central heating and air-conditioning systems, consider upgrading your filter to a high-performance HEPA filter, such as the Carbon Clean 16. A HEPA filter, which refers to its high-efficiency particulate absorbing filter, is designed to remove the tiniest particles in the air that circulate inside the home.

Make sure that the HEPA filter you choose has a high MERV rating (the Carbon Clean product has a rating of 16, for reference). The higher the rating, the more efficient your filter will be in keeping out dangerous contaminants in the air.

4. Avoid Additional Pollutants During Wildfires

If the air in your area is already compromised due to wildfires nearby, refrain from introducing additional contaminants inside your home that reduce air quality even further. This can include smoking cigarettes, propane gas fires in furnaces and wood-burning stoves, frying or broiling meat, candle-burning or incense lighting, aerosol products, and vacuuming the carpet.

5. Install a High-Quality Air Purification System

More and more Californians are having whole-home air filtration systems installed in their homes to combat the high pollutants in the air. A heavy-duty air purification system, like the Lennox PureAir System, eliminates or greatly reduces dangerous toxins in the air, along with other contaminants such as pollen, pet dander, viruses, dust mites, bacteria, mold spores, bad odors, and much more.

6. Schedule Regular HVAC Maintenance Checks

Your home’s HVAC system can help or hinder your efforts to improve the air quality inside your home. Regular maintenance checks of your unit will help you to identify any potential issues with your attic fans, and air sealants that work to keep the air circulating properly inside your home. You’ll also want to schedule regular duct cleaning to unclog dirty air filters to keep toxic particles stuck in the filter from infiltrating your home.

Ask your technician what you can do to improve your indoor air quality during fire season. Some HVAC units have a fresh air intake option, which will need to be closed or turned off if the air quality rating is unhealthy or dangerous. This will keep your indoor air re-circulating inside the home without pulling in any air from the outside.

Improve Indoor Air Quality with EHA Solutions

Along with our comprehensive range of outstanding home performance services, Environmental Heating & Air Solutions offers innovative and advanced options for improving your indoor air quality. In addition to our premium-quality products and installations of air purification systems, and industrial-strength HEPA filters, we also offer superior water purification services, HVAC repair, and maintenance services like duct cleaning, and much more.

For more information about our award-winning products and installation services for residents in Northern California, give our team a call to speak with someone over the phone. Or, if you’d like to schedule a free, no-obligation pricing estimate and consultation in your home with one of our representatives, fill out our online form.