Forest fires and indoor air quality, what to do?

June 27th, 2023

In Quebec, forest fires can occur once in a while during the warmer seasons, generally from early April to late October. The most extreme forest fires are usually during the hottest periods, which means you could be confronted simultaneously with forest fire smoke and extremely high temperatures. In addition to the obvious consequences for the outdoor environment, it’s essential to understand the impact of these fires on the indoor air quality of nearby homes. In this article, we’ll look at the steps you can take to protect your indoor environment, focusing on aeration, air filtration and other important precautions.

Maintain good ventilation

When a forest fire breaks out in your area, it’s a good idea to maintain good ventilation inside your home or workspace. Be sure to seal doors and windows and keep them closed when the temperature is pleasant. In addition, check that your home is equipped with at least one working carbon monoxide detector. Use fans to promote air circulation. Don’t hesitate to consult the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) for information on the health risks associated with local air pollution and the measures you can take to protect your health.

Use air purifiers

Air purifiers are effective devices for improving indoor air quality during a forest fire. They are equipped with special filters capable of trapping the fine particles present in smoke. Choose air purifiers with HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, which can capture up to 99.97% of airborne particles. Place air purifiers in main rooms and let them run continuously to filter the air.

Avoid using smoke-producing appliances

During a forest fire, it’s best to avoid using smoke-producing appliances indoors. This includes fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, scented candles, and incense. These smoke sources add extra particles to the indoor air and can make matters worse during a fire in progress. Choose electric alternatives instead or opt for heat and lighting sources that don’t emit smoke.

Clean your indoor environment regularly

Another suggestion is to regularly clean your indoor environment to remove deposited smoke particles. Vacuum frequently, using a model with a HEPA filter to capture fine particles. You can also wash sheets, curtains, and upholstery to remove odors and residues.

By following the above tips, you can reduce health risks and preserve air quality in your living space. Qualitam is also available to carry out an air quality analysis of your home.

Also find us on the network of Outremont's home inspectors