How to protect yourself from Valley wildfire smoke

Wildfire smoke drifted back into the Illinois Valley early Saturday morning from the McKinney Fire in Northern California.
Since fire season is in full swing, you should know how to take precautions when there is hazardous air quality.
Being prepared for fire season is especially important for the health of children, older adults, and people with heart or lung disease.
Consider purchasing a portable air cleaner or high-efficiency HVAC Filter:
You may decide to purchase a portable air cleaner or high-efficiency HVAC system filter as part of your preparation in order to help improve your indoor air quality during a wildfire smoke event.
If you decide to purchase a portable air cleaner, choose one that is sized for the room in which you will use it. Make sure the portable air cleaner does not make ozone.
If portable air cleaners are not available or affordable, you may choose to use a do-it-yourself (DIY) air cleaner. DIY air cleaners are made by attaching a furnace filter to a box fan with tape, brackets, or a bungee cord, and can serve as a temporary alternative to commercial air cleaners. At this time, there is limited data available on how well DIY air cleaners filter smoke particles. EPA does not recommend the routine use of DIY air cleaners as a permanent alternative to products of known performance (such as commercially available portable air cleaners).
Tips – if you choose to use a DIY air cleaner:
There are many ways to put together a DIY air cleaner. Some common designs are to place one filter flat against the fan, two filters taped with cardboard to form a triangle against the fan, or even more filters taped against the fan to form a cube. There are posted tutorial videos to help users construct DIY air cleaners for you to view at https://www.epa.gov.
To maximize filtration, choose a high-efficiency filter, preferably rated “Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value” (MERV) 13 or higher, and align the arrows on the filter with the direction of the air flow through the fan. Try to get a good seal between the fan and the filter.
If you use a DIY air cleaner, follow these safety tips:
• Use a newer model box fan (2012 or later) and look for one with a UL or ETL safety marking. These newer models have added safety features. Fans built before 2012 may pose fire risks. If you must use a fan built before 2012, do not leave it unattended or use it while sleeping.
• Follow the box fan manufacturer’s instructions, which can include: do not leave children unattended when the fan is in use; do not use an extension cord; do not use a damaged or malfunctioning fan; and ensure that there are working smoke detectors throughout the home.
• Have extra filters on hand and change the filter when it appears dirty or starts to release smoke odors. During smoke events, filters may need to be changed every few weeks or days.
• DIY air cleaners are probably most effective in a small room where you spend a significant amount of time, such as a bedroom.
If you decide to purchase a high-efficiency HVAC filter to increase filtration, choose one with a MERV 13 rating, or as high a rating as your system fan and filter slot can accommodate. You may need to consult a professional HVAC technician to determine the highest efficiency filter that will work best for your system.
You can find additional information about portable air cleaners and HVAC filters by going to the EPA’s website at https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/create-clean-room-protect-indoor-air-quality-during-wildfire.
If you are a low-income senior, family with an infant, or have lung or heart disease, you may be eligible for a free air purifier from Illinois Valley Wellness Resources. Please call or text 541-592-9781 or email ivwellnessresources@gmail.com to receive an application.