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Proactive, essential smoke protection tips

With triple digit temperatures already having impacted the region, the 2024 wildfire season has arrived and the time to prepare for wildfires is now. The Valley Air District encourages residents to be prepared and plan for potential poor air quality due to wildfire smoke that might reach the Valley as we head into the hotter, drier time of the year. Predicting the severity of the fire season is always challenging, particularly with ever-changing conditions and weather patterns, however recent grass fires throughout the Valley indicate this wildfire season may be a rough one.

The District reminds residents to change out air filters in their home and set up a Clean Air Room for when smoke impacts become severe. A Clean Air Room is a room in your home or apartment where you and your family can escape the worst of the smoke impacts from wildfires. Residents can follow six easy steps to create a Clean Air Room.

Choose a room where your entire family can relax and spend the majority of their time. Prevent smoke from entering the room by tightly closing doors and windows. Stay cool; run fans, window air conditioners or central air conditioning. Filter the air in the room with a store-bought air purifier or create a DIY air purifier. Reduce indoor air pollution by not using candles, open flame cooking, or smoking and spend as much time as possible in the clean air room to get the most benefits. Remember cloths mask don’t work for wildfire smoke, use N95 masks instead.

Hot and dry conditions throughout the San Joaquin Valley can create the potential for wildfires and lead to smoke impacts in the region. Due to historic rain and snow this past winter, there is the risk of an increased build-up of undergrowth and potential for significant dry vegetation during the summer months. This will present a higher risk for hotter, faster-moving fires in mountain communities surrounding the Valley, often sending smoke into the San Joaquin Valley.

The public can check the District’s Wildfire Prevention and Response page at for information about any wildfires affecting the Valley. In addition, anyone can follow air quality conditions by downloading the free “Valley Air” app on their mobile device or visit the EPA Fire and Smoke Map. Those residents in foothill or mountain communities should also listen to emergency alerts and be prepared to evacuate if needed.

Wildfire smoke contains particulate matter (PM), which can trigger asthma attacks, aggravate chronic bronchitis, and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Those with existing respiratory conditions are especially susceptible to the adverse health effects of this form of pollution. Anyone experiencing poor air quality due to wildfire smoke should move indoors to a filtered, air-conditioned environment with windows closed and contact their primary care provider for more information.