As we are in the midst of wildfire season, you may need a mask as you volunteer to clean up or take a walk outdoors, depending on the severity of the air quality conditions. Safety is always the main concern when you’re among smoke particles and fire. Below, we’ll discuss what masks to wear and what masks not to wear along with other tips and tricks on how to stay safe when wildfires are near.
What Masks to Wear for Protection:
There are two different kinds of masks that people think of when it comes to facial masks, but only one of those, respiratory masks, provide protection from smoke particles. Many people struggle during wildfire season, but especially those who have asthma or another underlying condition suffer. Lots of people suggest to not walk outdoors at all, unless you have one of these respiratory masks. But even then, some people still struggle with breathing. People with asthma should have their inhaler with them at all times, even though that does not help as much in these situations.
The Different Types of Masks:
The effectiveness of respiratory masks will depend on what type they are. Those looking for protection from wildfire smoke should check for the label “NIOSH95” or “N95” on the packaging. You could also opt for an even stronger mask like the “N99”. These are going to be the only thing that is effective for protection. It is important to know that wearing one of these masks for a long period of time can also make breathing difficult. So, if you’re needing a break from your mask or polluted air, don’t be afraid to step inside someplace cool.
Masks to Steer Clear Of:
Masks you want to steer clear from using are the typical hospital masks, a scarf or piece of clothing. This often ‘feels’ like it’s helping you, when in fact, it is providing a false sense of security and often makes you breathe more smoke particles in than if you would not have used anything at all. Smoke particles can easily get through these ‘comfort’ or ‘dust’ masks. These will mainly keep out larger things, but not smaller particles such as smoke.
Some other ways you can keep yourself protected is by doing the following.
Wear protective clothing
Keep up with air quality reports
Avoid polluting your home and stay indoors
Follow the advice from your doctor
Evacuate from the path of wildfires
Wearing the right mask is just the beginning of keeping yourself safe and protected from wildfire smoke. If you have been affected by the smoke and are concerned with your breathing or an underlying condition that may have been impacted, contact Pulse Air Heart and Lung Centre.