Wildfire Smoke and Your Health Protect Yourself During Poor Air Quality
Annual preparations for wildfire smoke impacts can help Montana residents mitigate the effect of wildfire smoke on their health and daily routines. These steps include talking to their health care provider about their health risk, taking steps to keep their indoor air cleaner, sharing existing cleaner air spaces in their homes with neighbors, and limiting outdoor activity when air quality is poor.
Air Quality & COVID-19
This wildfire season is going to be unique as Montana continues to respond to COVID-19. This year we are especially concerned about health impacts as breathing in wildfire smoke may worsen symptoms for those with COVID-19 and many of those vulnerable to wildfire smoke are also vulnerable to COVID-19. How we protect ourselves from wildfire smoke is going to be different with COVID-19. It will be more difficult to go to public spaces where the air is cleaner and cooler than our homes may be. N95 respirators should be reserved for healthcare and frontline workers because N95 respirator supplies are limited. Cloth face coverings do not provide protection from hazardous chemicals found in wildfire smoke. Take steps to prepare your home for wildfire smoke by improving air filtration and creating a clean air space.
Smoke and your Health- DPHHS Recommendations
This resource includes 7 tips that the general public can follow to stay healthy and avoid prolonged exposure to harmful wildfire smoke. Also, check out the "Frequently Asked Questions" section on how to keep your family healthy.
Outdoor Air Quality and Activity Guidelines
General Public: Outdoor Activity Guidelines Based on Air Quality
These recommendations for outdoor activities were developed by the Montana Department of Public Health and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. The guidelines are based on the amount of time spent outdoors in different levels of air quality, from good to hazardous. Instructions on how to use the guidelines and read the Today's Air website can be found on the back of this resource.
Schools and Childcare Facilities: Outdoor Activity Guidelines Based on Air Quality
These recommendations for outdoor activities were developed by the Montana Department of Public Health and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and approved by the Montana Office of Public Instruction. The guidelines are based on the amount of time spent outdoors in different levels of air quality, from good to hazardous. Instructions on how to use the guidelines and read the Today's Air website can be found on the of this resource. Health risk categories are the same as the general guidelines, but activity recommendations may vary.
Montana Wildfire Partners
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality provides air quality readings and activity recommendations based on data from monitoring stations placed around the state. In addition to the Today's Air website, DEQ houses a "Wildfire Smoke" page which includes links to state and national resources related to wild fire smoke and public health.
Ready and Safe Montana serves as a landing page for current emergency events. This site can help direct you to public health news and alerts, air quality monitoring and reporting, weather forecasting, and travel and road conditions. Ready and Safe also houses information for the general public about individual preparedness and opportunities to support local emergency response efforts.
The Department of Commerce provides daily updates during the wildfire season that review potential impacts on travel. This site includes links to webcams from across the state, as well as information about potential travel restrictions, area closures, and smoke conditions. Travel counselors can assist you with your travel itinerary and direct you to list of indoor and outdoor activities that may be a good fit for you.
The American Lung Association offers general recommendations for the public and specific tips for individuals with chronic respiratory diseases
MontanaWildfireSmoke.org grew out of efforts by Climate Smart Missoula to help our community during times of wildfire smoke and other changing summer conditions. The site provides evidence based information on the health effects of wildfire smoke and includes instructions on how to read air quality levels using the Today's Air website and the Outdoor Activity Recommendations for Schools and Childcare Centers. Climate Smart has also produced a number of short videos about assessing air quality and protecting yourself from wildfire smoke.
You can help your fellow Montanans by donating to the following organizations:
- American Red Cross of Montana
The American Red Cross accepts donations and may be looking for volunteers to help at shelters across the state.
- American Lung Association (Not currently available)
Each wildfire season, many Montana communities are affected by unhealthy levels of wildfire smoke. The American Lung Association works with DPHHS, DEQ, and local county health departments to get air filters into the most vulnerable populations across the state. Visit this page to donate directly to Montana relief efforts. Funding will be used to purchase HEPA air purifiers for schools most heavily impacted by wildfire smoke.
- Local United Way
Local United Way chapters may be accepting donations to support community members affected by wildfires or other natural disasters. Contact your local united way for more information.
American Red Cross- Find Open Shelters
The American Red Cross opens shelters in times of emergencies. If you are forced to evacuate from your home and need a place to go, the Red Cross may be able to provide temporary shelter.
Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC): Fire Map
Interactive web map for DNRC Wildland Fires
- Particulate Matter Pollution
- Publications, Fact Sheets and Other Resources
- Smoke-Ready Toolbox for Wildfires
- Wildfires and Indoor Air Quality
This page explains what actions to take if you receive a fire weather watch alert from the National Weather Service for your local area and what to do before, during, and after a wildfire.
Smoke Ready Toolbox
Public health officials can use the resources in the Smoke Ready Toolbox to help educate the public about the risks of smoke exposure and actions people can take to protect their health.
Contact us by phone: (406) 444-4141
- Vision: Healthy people in healthy communities.
- Mission: Improve and protect the health of Montanans by advancing conditions for healthy living.
- Evidence-based decision making: Use scientific evidence to select and implement programs and interventions.
- Collaboration: Engage in collaborations to improve the health of Montanans.
- Equal access and individual rights: Address and reduce health disparities.
- Accountability: Focus efforts on improving customer satisfaction and quality of service in everyday work.
- Quality: Conduct operations in accordance with PHAB's standards and measures.
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