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How to protect yourself from wildfire smoke

The increased amount of fine particulate matter in wildfire smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases.

COLORADO, USA — Smoke from wildfires in Colorado and California continues to affect the air quality along the Front Range.

Locations in Larimer County including Bellvue, Laporte and Fort Collins are under an Air Quality Health Advisory for Wildfire Smoke on Wednesday.

Full 9NEWS coverage of wildfires in Colorado can be found here.

Smoke from wildfires can sting your eyes, irritate your respiratory system and worsen chronic heart and lung disease, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Even if you're not in the impacted area, it never hurts to be prepared in case wildfire smoke starts coming your way. Here are ways to make sure you’re ready when smoke rolls in and air quality dips.

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Track the air quality

  • You can keep up to date on the latest air quality information from the The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Regional Air Quality Council at Colorado.gov/AirQuality.

Keep your indoor air clean

  • Set your car and home air conditioners to recirculate so outside air isn't drawn inward.
  • Use a high-efficiency HEPA indoor filter if possible.
  • Keep windows and doors closed.
  • Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution including burning candles, using fireplaces or gas stoves.
  • Avoid vacuuming which stirs up particles already inside your home.

Protect your eyes

  • To protect your eyes from wildfire smoke, limit time outdoors.
  • If you're outdoors, safety goggles and sunglasses can help minimize the irritating effects of smoke.
  • Practice good hygiene, especially if wearing contact lenses.

Avoid dust masks

  • Paper “comfort” or “dust” masks commonly found at hardware stores are designed to trap large particles, such as sawdust. These masks will not protect your lungs from the small particles found in wildfire smoke.

Stay safe in the heat

  • Limit strenuous outdoor activities, find shade and stay hydrated.
  • Stay hydrated at outdoor job sites and take breaks in the shade as often as possible.
  • Never leave kids or pets unattended in hot cars.
  • Check up on the elderly, sick and those without air conditioning.

Prevent wildfires from starting

  • Prepare, build, maintain, and extinguish campfires safely.

For more information about wildfire smoke, visit CDC.gov.

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