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Wildfire Season 2019: Safeguarding against smoke

by Alen Editor September 16, 2019


Summary:  This article will help you safeguard your home’s air from the harmful effects of wildfire smoke, which can cause dangerous breathing conditions far from fires. We look at what makes smoke so damaging and how a purifier equipped with a carbon HEPA filter can make a massive difference.

It was last October and John was worrying about his daughter Sarah. She had just moved across the country to San Francisco for a new job. John was concerned that her beloved dog would trigger asthma in her tiny apartment. Little did he know, a much bigger threat loomed.  Soon, San Francisco would have the worst air quality in the world. The devastating Camp Fire was making all of northern California especially dangerous for anyone with breathing conditions like asthma. Luckily, the Alen purifier John ordered for her arrived just before the smoke. 

"The BreatheSmart 45i has made her apartment a comfortable and breathable refuge from the smoke and ash,” John wrote in a review. “Thanks…” 

Wildfire Season 2019 

Now that wildfires have returned, many face air quality threats similar to Sarah’s.  Wildfire smoke contains an array of harmful fine particles and chemicals that endanger people near fires as well as those downwind hundreds and even thousands of miles away. Smoke from last year's western wildfires caused pollution 3,000 miles away on the east coast.

Late-season fires are more dangerous due to drier fuel like grasses and brush coupled with more frequent North wind events, which can push fires out of control quickly.

For that reason, we’ve listed a few important ways to be ready to fight smoke's worst effects. But first, let’s look at what makes wildfire smoke so hazardous.

Why is Wildfire Smoke so dangerous?

Wildfire smoke is a complex mixture of gases and fine particles produced when wood and other organic materials burn. This creates a two-fold threat for air quality: Chemical gasses called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) combine with ultra-fine soot or ash particles that can travel deep into the lungs and cause lasting damage.

According to the CDC, children, pregnant women, elderly individuals, and people who are sensitive to air pollution (such as those with pre-existing heart and lung disease) should take precautions to limit exposure to wildfire smoke.

Particulate matter is the pollutant of most concern, according to the EPA. These microscopic particles can cause many health problems from burning eyes and runny nose to asthma attacks to aggravation of chronic heart and lung disease, leading to emergency department visits, hospital admissions, and even premature death.

VOCs include carcinogens like acrolein, benzene, and formaldehyde that can stay present in smokey air and trigger symptoms from headaches and nausea to loss of coordination or liver damage. Longer-term exposure becomes even more serious.

Before we talk about how to filter these toxins out of your home’s air, we want to list a few important ways to stay safe by getting prepared. 

Four Critical Ways to Be Ready for Wildfires

1. Be sure you are receiving emergency alerts before you need them:

  • FEMA Wireless Emergency Alerts - FEMA works with US cell phone carriers to send free emergency texts to cell phones (that can get text messages) within range. 
  • Emergency Alert System - A public warning system that uses existing TV, radio, cable, and other systems to send critical messages to the general public. Messages are local or national, depending on the situation.
  • NOAA Weather Radio - A nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. NWR broadcasts official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts, and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

2.  Develop a family emergency plan  including your community’s evacuation plans and find several ways to leave the area.

3.  Gather emergency supplies and have fire extinguishers on hand.

4. Create what the EPA calls a Clean Room as a refuge from smoke before wildfires start. 

  • Choose a room with no fireplace and as few windows and doors as possible, such as a bedroom. 
  • Select an air purifier with a carbon-equipped HEPA filter that is the right size for the room.
  • Run the air purifier continuously on the highest fan setting. (Alen BreatheSmart purifiers use particle sensors to automatically adjust speed).

If you can safely stay in your home, Alen has specially-designed wildfire purifiers to offer proven protection for a variety of spaces—backed by our exclusive lifetime warranty and thousands of 5-star customer reviews. 

Best Purifiers for Wildfire Smoke

For safe indoor air, you must remove smoke’s most harmful ingredients: fine particles and VOC chemicals. We equipped two of our most popular purifiers with upgraded FreshPlus HEPA filters specially designed to eliminate both.

Knock out wildfire smoke with a 1-2 pure air punch.

Alen’s proprietary FreshPlus filters contain extra carbon to remove chemicals and odors, and HEPA material to remove ash, soot, and the most dangerous microscopic particulates.

"Without this air purifier, my husband would have been hospitalized during the Southern California wildfires. The air was unbreathable outside and even inside our neighbor's house, but the 45i kept our air pure and clean. I love the light that tells you when the air is clear, and the unit could not be easier to use. Well worth every penny." -Linda B.


The BreatheSmart FIT50

Compact but mighty, the BreatheSmart FIT50 is recommended for anyone with a home or office in the immediate vicinity of fires, as well as for larger rooms. 

Its slim profile, oversized filter, and powerful yet quiet motor make it the ideal heavy-duty purifier for fighting heavy wildfire smoke. The FIT50 is especially effective at removing VOCs and other airborne carcinogens present near fires.

(optional oak panel pictured)
Coverage: 900 SqFt twice an hour
Amount of Carbon: 3 lbs

The BreatheSmart 45i  

One of Alen’s most advanced and best-selling purifiers, the BreatheSmart 45i is ideal for bedrooms mid-sized rooms. In a study by SleepScore Labs, the 45i was proven to improve sleep and decrease allergy symptoms—becoming the only SleepScore Validated air purifier.

All BreatheSmart purifiers are tuned to emit a pink noise frequency shown to benefit sleep while their lights-off mode cleans the air without disturbing your sleep.

(optional graphite panel pictured)
Coverage: 800 SqFt twice an hour
Amount of Carbon: 2.38 lbs 

Customers Trust Alen for Protection Against Wildfire Smoke 

We could list more facts about why Alen’s wildfire purifiers are the surest way to stop wildfire smoke’s most dangerous and irritating effects, but thousands of 5-star reviews by our customers say it better than we ever could. Here are just a few from previous wildfire seasons:

“I purchased this [BreatheSmart FIT50] due to the poor air quality in our area after the Thomas Fire. It works very well cleaning the air in our master bedroom and does not disturb our sleep. This is our second Alen air purifier in our home.” -Gail S.

“We bought two FIT50 air purifiers with HEPA filters to deal with smoke from the outdoors coming into our house. For a period of time every summer, wildfire smoke settles in our area. I used to wake up with a headache every morning. Not anymore - not one headache since we started using the FIT50s a couple of weeks ago, despite the smoke. What a relief! We have them in our bedrooms, and we are sleeping better, too. Thanks so much!” -William O

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