Hurricanes, wildfires and severe winter weather can be devastating to your indoor air quality. Here’s how to take control of stormy situations.
More and more, the United States is experiencing some devastating severe weather, including widespread wildfires in California, powerful hurricanes in the East and bitter cold temperatures across the Midwest (hello, polar vortex.) One thing these natural disasters have in common? They all pose a threat to indoor air quality.
The Atlantic coast and the Gulf areas brace for hurricane season every June to November. Brutal, whipping winds and heavy rainfall spiraling into living areas can cause often-destructive damage to homes.
Severe flooding—a main effect of hurricanes—puts your home at a pretty big risk for mold buildup, which worsens your air quality. After a flood, remove standing water as soon as possible and discard anything that has been wet for more than 24 to 48 hours. Controlling mold means controlling moisture levels fast.
California saw its largest fire in the state’s history in July 2018, burning through more than 450,000 acres.* Though they often are started by humans, wildfires are becoming harder to contain due to extreme heat and droughts in certain areas. The obvious threat they pose to air quality is smoke, though you may not know that wildfires burning hundreds of miles away from your home can still have an impact on your indoor air quality.
Keep an eye on local air quality alerts during wildfires that are happening in your general area. The Filtrete™ Smart App can also monitor outdoor air quality. Stay indoors, close your windows and run your heating and cooling system with a clean filter to keep the air in your home as fresh and clean as possible.
Winter for some U.S. regions can be extreme, and may include a polar vortex or two, blizzards and bitter cold temperatures. Bad winter storms can often cause power outages, which can be a major problem when temps are below freezing.
When the heat goes off, people often turn to appliances like gas stoves and ovens to provide heat. Without proper ventilation, however, using these appliances and burning fuel indoors produces carbon monoxide and other harmful air pollutants. In the event of a power outage in extreme cold, make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector installed and use blankets and winter coats to keep warm instead. If you have a properly vented fireplace, make sure you use dry wood for burning.
*CAL Fire: The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (PDF, 115.92 KB)