Northern Rockies Regional Municipality

Get Out of Smoky Conditions in a Clean Air Shelter

Wildfire Smoke - Clean Air Shelters

Wildfire smoke can have additional health risks for vulnerable populations or create irritating symptoms in healthy individuals. Staying indoors is recommended during smoke events to reduce exposure to smoke. Creating a clean air shelter is effective to reduce exposure. If your area is regularly impacted by smoke, plan your clean air shelters before the smoke season so that you are prepared.

The Northern Rockies Regional Recreation Centre has been informally designated as a community clean air shelter, as its HVAC system filters many particulates from the outside air. Feel free to take a break and use the amenities such as the walking track and concession if you would like to get out of the smoky conditions. There are also tips below for creating a clean air shelter, reducing the smoke levels within your home. This link also provides information from Northern Health about wildfire smoke.

Clean air shelters are areas, rooms or buildings that have a filtration system that reduces the amount of particulates generated by wildfire smoke. The objective, as in the image below, is to limit outdoor air entering the home, avoid creating indoor air pollutants, and filtering indoor air. There are no specific standards or air quality measurements for clean air shelters. A review of science-based literature has shown that central air units are effective at reducing particulate materials/matter.

  • A home clean air shelter (home-CAS) is your home, or room of your home, with filtration that is suitable for reducing smoke exposure.
  • Close all windows and doors.
  • Seal cracks around doors and windows.
  • Turn off exhaust fans, window air conditioners or other external vents.
  • A central air system or air conditioning system can be used.
  • Turn the fresh-air intake off and set to recirculate.
  • A high efficiency particulate air (HEPA)filter is best; however conventional filters will lower PM levels to a lesser degree.
  • Portable air cleaners (HEPA or electrostatic air filters)can be very effective at reducing smoke particles. Be sure that the unit is appropriately sized for the room.
  • Avoid creating other air pollution e.g. smoking, burning candles, gas and wood stoves, and certain cleaning products). Avoid vacuuming which can stir up dust.
  • During heat events, air conditioning may be needed to keep the home cool and reduce heat stress.
  • During periods when smoke clears open windows and doors to provide fresh air into the home.

If you do not have a central air system or access to a portable air cleaner, taking the steps above to limit smoke entering the home will still help to reduce smoke levels in the home. Ground floor or basement levels tend to be cooler and may be less impacted by smoke.

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