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The Safety Brief In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews
and insights into how contractors and safety managers
can be even more effective in protecting their workers.
In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews and insights into how contractors and safety managers can be even more effective in protecting their workers.

Wildfire Smoke Health Effects

Evacuate! A threatened industrial site. Photo by USFS.

Wildfire smoke is a creeping health hazard in the western US. Hear how to breathe safely as the smoke moves from burning forests to populated areas.

The forest fire season is upon us. The winds fanning the flames also carry the resulting blanket of smoke across entire states and regions.

Listen for tips on how to cope with wildfire smoke if you work outdoors, and how to keep it out of homes and businesses.


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Wildfire smoke drifts toward populated area. Photo by USFS.

Dan Clark: You don’t have to be a firefighter to worry about your lungs. Wildfire smoke is spreading far and wide, affecting many in their everyday jobs. Good advice comes next.

Hello, I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, tackling health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites, compliments of Creative Safety Supply.

Go to Use coupon code BIG10 to score 10 percent off.

This year’s fire season has been brutal, with over 7 million acres burned so far in the US. Much of the western US is enveloped in smoke and you don’t have to live near it to get a nose full. Interloping smoke has crept into rural areas and big cities.

Jobsite with impending wildfire hazards. Photo by USFS.

I have a few tips if it’s knocking on your door. These tips are good advice for other smoky air pollution situations. So, people coughing in Shanghai and Beijing, listen up!

Breathing smoke, as you can imagine, can cause you difficulty breathing, irritated nose, throat, sinuses, and eyes. Chest pain, headache, fatigue and rapid heartbeat.

N95 respirator. Image by NIOSH.

If you must work outside:

1. Use an N95 respirator. That wimpy dust mask you buy at the hardware store won’t cut it. They don’t snag fine particles. They’re only good for sawdust. The N95 filters out 95 percent of particulates, so look for a filter rated N95 or higher.


2. Check local air quality reports. is a great resource, with forecasts and maps.

3. Follow all state and local fire restrictions. Avoid burning so you don’t contribute to an already smoky situation.

If you’re indoors:

1. Stop contaminated air from coming inside. Keep windows and door shut. Close the air intake on air conditioners.

2. Don’t add to indoor air pollution by smoking, lighting candles, vacuuming or using a gas stove.


3. Follow any medical advice you’ve been given if you have heart or lung problems.

And a few final tips if wildfire itself could threaten your home or business:

1. Clear dead vegetation and other debris 100 feet around buildings.

2. Use a hose to water down buildings and property.

3. Don’t be afraid to evacuate. Stuff can be replaced. You can’t.

That’s all for this episode, Wildfire Smoke Health Effects. Come back for more ways to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, a service of Creative Safety Supply. Save 10 percent off your entire order at with coupon code BIG10.


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