How to protect yourself from wildfire smoke

Marcus Luchessi, left, and Tisha Mason wear particulate masks while riding their bicycles along Cleveland Avenue, three days after the Tubbs fire destroyed parts of Santa Rosa, California, on Thursday, October 12, 2017. The couple, who live a short distance away from the decimated Coffey Lane area, recalled seeing burning embers of photographs, old records and other materials raining down when the Tubbs fire swept through the neighborhood. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)


The deadly wildfires raging across Northern California have brought with them air quality levels that rival the Chinese capital of Beijing with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District calling it the worst air quality ever recorded in some parts of the Bay Area.

"We have unprecedented levels of smoke and particles in the air that we normally don't see," said Ralph Borrmann, a spokesman for the district in an Associated Press story about event cancellations due to the bad air.

Here are some tips from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention on how to protect yourself:

- Do not rely on dust masks for protection. Paper masks found at hardware stores are designed to trap large particles like sawdust and will not protect your lungs from the smaller particles found in wildfire smoke. If you want to wear a mask, look for one with a particulate respirator, labeled NIOSH-approved, marked N95 or P100. Look for them on Amazon, Home Depot or other hardware retailers.

- Keep indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors closed.

- Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution like smoking, burning candles or using fireplaces. Vacuuming stirs up particles inside your house, contributing to indoor pollution.

- And, of course, evacuate from the path of fires.