The Canadian Wildfires: How They're Affecting Air Quality and Health in Northeast Ohio

July 03, 2023

The Canadian Wildfires: How They're Affecting Air Quality and Health in Northeast Ohio

Wildfires, known for their devastating impact in open areas, may seem far removed from your comfortable and seemingly secure indoor environment. However, the adverse effects of such natural disasters reach far beyond the fire line, affecting air quality in regions hundreds, even thousands, of miles away. In Northeast Ohio, residents have found themselves dealing with repercussions from wildfires blazing across parts of Canada.

So how do we stay safe indoors, preserving our health and ensuring our homes provide the sanctuary they're designed to be?

Understanding the Impact on Air Quality

To begin with, understanding the effects of wildfires on air quality is important. Smoke from wildfires comprises minute particles that can penetrate deep into your lungs and even enter your bloodstream. This exposure can lead to immediate and long-term health issues.

Measures to Stay Safe Indoors

Staying safe indoors requires both preparedness and vigilance. Here are some vital steps to take:

  1. Monitor Air Quality

Checking your local air quality index (AQI) should be as routine as checking the weather forecast. The AirNow government website provides this information hourly. It is hard to believe that Northeast Ohio had a reading of  319 just a few days ago. 

  1. Improve Indoor Air Quality

There are several ways to ensure your indoor air is as fresh as possible:

  • While keeping windows and doors shut may seem intuitive, certain household activities like cooking can also contribute to indoor air pollution. Consider using an exhaust fan or range hood when necessary.
  • Run an air purifier with a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter which can capture the microscopic particles that originate from wildfire smoke.
  • Change HVAC filters regularly. When air quality is poor, consider using filters rated MERV 13 or higher, as these can remove more airborne particles. Also, you may want to change the filter once the air quality is back to normal.
  • Keep your air conditioner on 70, the cooler the better when the air quality is poor. We have found this to work great!
  • It is best not to run the vacuum cleaner during this time as well. 
  1. Limit Physical Exertion

During periods of poor air quality, it's best to avoid tasks that cause you to breathe harder, as this results in you inhaling more particles. Substitute strenuous activities with gentler exercises, or delay them until the air quality improves.

  1. Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated helps to keep your airways moist, which can make it easier to cough up any particulates that you might inhale.

  1. Seek Medical Attention

Should you or anyone in the household develop symptoms like chest pain, persistent coughing, or difficulty breathing, seek immediate medical attention.

  1. Watch Out for Pets

While humans can tune into the news or online reports, our pets rely on us to keep them safe. Keep pets indoors as much as possible, ensuring they also have plenty of fresh water to drink.


Staying safe indoors during a spate of poor air quality requires understanding the risks, regular monitoring of air quality indices, and taking practical steps to mitigate exposure within our homes. Your home is your sanctuary, and taking these measures will ensure it remains just that, even amidst the challenges posed by wildfire smoke.