When can I open my windows?

Asked September 18, 2020, 1:48 PM EDT

We have been dealing with wildfire smoke/ash and low air quality for over a week. Given the clearing that has occurred just today after a much-appreciated rain, can we open our windows (as opposed to our filtered air system)? If not, how will we know when it is safe to do so?

Benton County Oregon

3 Responses

Hello! This is a great question. It's so tempting to throw open the windows and breathe the freshly washed air. Here's the (potential) problem - a lot of the stuff we are worried about we can't see. So even though the air may look, and smell, clean, it might not be. I recommend the AirNow website run by the Environmental Protection Agency. You can search by City or zipcode, and find the air quality index (AQI) for your location. Most weather apps also use the air quality index, so if you have a different app or website you prefer, you can use that as well.

For example, I just went to AirNow.gov and typed in my zipcode. A meter will pop up, and give you the air quality reading for you location. For my location, I am in the green (good) level. If you are in the green (good) or yellow (moderate) levels, I absolutely recommend opening your windows and letting that clean air flush out your home. Once you go past the yellow level though, you will want to return to your filtered air system. I would keep checking the AirNow.gov site, as the smoke may, unfortunately, return. I am so grateful for this brief reprieve thanks to the rain!

Thank you for your helpful response. Are you ok with me sharing your answer on Facebook? I'm sure others are wondering and I'm especially cautious about sharing without attribution these days. : )

Hi,

Thanks for asking! You may share to Facebook; you may also consider including this link from the CDC, which provides guidance on preventing exposure to wildfire smoke.

https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/features/wildfires/index.html

Best,
Diana