Info on protecting yourselves from wildfire smoke: https://wasmoke.blogspot.com/2020/09/protect-yourself-from-wildfire-smoke.html
Many of the things you can do are completely free! Please do them. In the middle of a pandemic is the worst time to also have your lungs in harm's way from other causes.
Anybody remember the official advice from the W years that in the event of a chemical weapon being released in a population center, the best thing one could do (rather than going out in it to try and flee) was to close all doors & windows and seal the edges with duct tape? It was widely mocked at the time.
I didn't recall that said advice existed until a couple hours afterwards, but I sealed up a bunch of drafts in my apartment with duct tape on the idea that if the household HEPA air purifiers weren't keeping up, then I needed to do more to keep the outdoors out. Lo and behold, I no longer need to wear an N95 mask inside my home to prevent repeated asthma attacks.
And, well, it occurs to me that smoke is a prototypical chemical agent--airborne fine particulates and noxious gases that are easily moved around by the wind. So it looks like that at least kinda functions the way we were told.
tl;dr: If it sounds stupid but it works, it isn't stupid.
And may nature quit trying to choke us soon.
@Verdigris I think the issue might be that chemical weapons are much, MUCH smaller then airborn ash, and with most of them by the time you sealed up the windows, you'd be dead
@Canageek It depends on how close you are and which way the wind is going. The other thing about chemical weapons is that they dilute in the general atmosphere pretty easily.
Don't get me wrong, it'd still be a mass casualty event no matter how you look at it. But if you can keep the people on the edges from needing medical care, that's resources that can go to somebody worse-off.
This is relevant in wildfires, too. People who've had only 10min to evacuate may well show up with smoke inhalation problems--from, e.g., having to drive an imperfectly sealed car slowly due to blizzard-poor visibility--in all surrounding areas, so everyone else should expect healthcare resources to be under increased load. And try to save that capacity for the displaced.
@Verdigris wait. Why did that seem stupid? O.o
Modern windows form a good enough seal (in the UK at least) that we literally have to have extra vents put in to stop us suffocating or drowning in condensation.
@Jacel Might be what @Canageek and I talked about above (a sealed building only being protection for people far enough away from the source), or it might just be that 'something so simple couldn't possibly work'. The idea that a more complicated setup is better leads to safety theatre, but it turns out to be challenging to get people to understand--or maybe to accept--that simplicity means fewer things can go wrong.
@Verdigris @Jacel again, I'm somewhat skeptical it would work at all, due to the fact we're talking about particles that are in a lot of cases several orders of magnitude smaller, or our actual gases instead of particles. like this is working because you're forcing all the air to go through your HVAC system, which has filters. if the filters won't touch the gas it doesn't matter how the air goes into the home. it also won't do anything for buildings that don't have HVAC or any sort of filtration.
@Canageek @Jacel My home in particular seems like a quasi-separate issue? My HEPA devices are standalone units--a landlord wouldn't pay for that. And if I were bracing for fines or a gas, I certainly wouldn't leave my A/C unit in its place in the window. Nor does the building have central heating. (The style in this region seems to be one electric heating unit per room.) I've also probably weatherized the apartment I live in more than most in this building, to avoid air conditioning the great outdoors.
To the greatest extent we're able to arrange, we're relying on the air which was already in the apartment until there's enough of a break in the weather to open some windows and cycle it out. Hopefully that'll be sometime this evening, 'cause even with reduced physical activity it will start being noticably stale in here after about 24h.
@Verdigris @Jacel ahhh yeah. I hope it does to. We just got a weather alert that the air quality is dropping due to smoke from the Washington fires arriving here but it's not bad enough I need to seal up the apartment.
the construction work outside means I need all the windows on that side of the apartment closed though...