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Protect Your Lungs From Wildfire Smoke Using Correct Face Mask

CAMAS, WA — Seeing people wear face masks while outdoors isn’t something we expected a few days ago, but it’s becoming common place. So, we did a little research about finding the right types.

Wildfire smoke can irritate your eyes, nose, throat and lungs. It can make you cough and wheeze, and can make it hard to breathe. If you have asthma or another lung disease, or heart disease, inhaling wildfire smoke can be especially harmful.

Staying indoors and reducing physical activity are the best ways to protect your lungs from wildfire smoke.

According to the Washington State Department of Health, wearing a special mask called a “particulate respirator” can also help protect your lungs from wildfire smoke.

How to Choose the Correct Mask to Protect Your Lungs

  • Choose a mask called a “particulate respirator” that has the word “NIOSH” and either “N95” or “P100” printed on it. These are sold at many hardware and home repair stores and pharmacies. Home Depot on 192nd Street sold out of them today.
  • Choose one that has two straps that go around your head. DO NOT choose a mask with only one strap or with straps that just hook over the ears.
  • Choose a size that will fit over your nose and under your chin. It should seal tightly to your face. These masks do not come in sizes that fit young children.
  • Do not use bandanas (wet or dry), paper or surgical masks, or tissues held over the mouth or nose. These will not protect your lungs from wildfire smoke.

N95 particulate respirators WILL protect your lungs from wildfire smoke. Straps must go above and below the ears.

How to Use a Mask

  • Place it over your nose and under your chin, with one strap placed below the ears and one strap above.
  • Pinch the metal part of the mask tightly over the top of your nose.
  • It fits best on clean shaven skin.
  • Throw out your mask when it gets harder to breathe through, or if the inside gets dirty. Use a new mask each day if you can.
  • It is harder to breathe through a mask, so take breaks often if you work outside.
  • If you feel dizzy or nauseated, go to a less smoky area, and take off your mask and get medical help.
  • If you have a heart or lung problem, ask your doctor before using a mask.



A surgical mask will NOT protect your lungs from wildfire smoke.

For more information about protecting yourself from wildfire, please visit: http://www.doh.wa.gov/ 

Search for “Wildfire Smoke.”

Where to find the N95 masks?

We found the last ones today at Home Depot, and most hardware stores do carry them. We do know local stores are ordering more.

Reputable sites like www.amazon.com do have them in stock, and you can get 1-day delivery. Search for “N95 particulate respirators.”

Stay safe out there — and avoid the outdoors as much as possible.


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