Idaho DEQ Encourages Public to Prepare for Wildfire Season


BOISE, ID – The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is encouraging the public to prepare for smoke impacts during what is expected to be another active wildfire season. Impacts from wildfire smoke are typically felt from around early July to mid-September. However, harmful smoke from a Canadian wildfire is already affecting some communities in the Midwest, leading to unhealthy air quality alerts issued in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

From Idaho DEQ:

Breathing in wildfire smoke can cause serious respiratory and cardiovascular effects, and smoke can be particularly harmful to people with underlying health conditions, pregnant women, children, and older individuals.

The following resources are available to help you protect your health this summer and prepare for wildfire season. For more information, visit AirNow’s Be Smoke Ready web page.

Create a clean air room

During wildfires, smoke can enter your home. Creating a clean air room can help reduce exposure to wildfire smoke while indoors, which can be especially important for sensitive groups. To create a clean air room, designate an indoor space, close all windows and doors, and tuck towels in any cracks. To improve air quality during a smoke event, install a high efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA or MERV 13) in your HVAC system, purchase a portable air cleaner, or create a clean air fan.

Build a DIY air fan

A DIY air fan is a simple and affordable way to filter out particulate matter in a small indoor space. There are various designs, ranging from simple to more complicated, and all are less expensive than commercial filters. These homebuilt filters can be very effective, and studies show  that they can compete with expensive HEPA filters when constructed properly.

You can create a DIY air fan by purchasing a new box fan (ensure it has a UL or ETL logo) and high-efficiency filter (rated MERV 13 or higher). Adhere the filter to the back of the fan by aligning the arrows on the filter with the direction of the air flow through the fan. Change the filter when it appears dirty or starts to release smoke odors.

Check DEQ’s daily air quality forecast

DEQ’s real-time air quality map provides the latest air quality data from DEQ and tribal monitors. Each dot on the interactive map represents an active air quality monitor, and the color of each dot corresponds with the current Air Quality Index (AQI) category based on the latest available data. Learn more on DEQ’s Air Quality Index web page.

DEQ’s Air Quality Forecasts web page provides daily forecasts for certain areas throughout state. DEQ forecasts the expected AQI for three days and identifies the main pollutant of concern. The page also includes burn restrictions, air quality advisories, links to the outdoor open burning and real-time air quality maps, and the 10-day AQI trend.