How to Protect Yourself from Wildfire Smoke

"fire" by Triratna Photos is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

As smoke from raging wildfires continues to plague Washington, Bellevue College recognizes this hazard as a threat to public health, making it imperative to provide our students with tips on how to determine the level of danger posed by outdoor air quality, understand the significance of restricting outdoor activity and learn how to maintain clean air indoors.

An easy and quick way to monitor the air quality of where you live is by using a website called, which includes daily information about outdoor wildfire smoke levels. Simply go to the website, type in your city, state or zip code, and the site will provide you with up-to-date data that can help you decide whether it is safe to go outside. 

It is important to stay indoors as much as possible when the outside smoke level is unhealthy because such smoke in high concentrations can irritate your eyes and respiratory system. Additionally, according to, wildfires generate a variety of health-threatening air pollutants, ranging from cancer-inducing material to minuscule atoms able to worsen current health issues. 

According to, ways to maintain fresh air indoors include routinely switching out your current AC filter for a new one to upkeep clean ventilation and filter out smoke; keeping any windows and doors shut to prevent smoke from entering indoor locations; refraining from smoking, lighting candles and vacuuming; turning on indoor fans; and putting the AC on recirculation mode while shutting down the new air input. 

“Right now, the threat level is moderate, but we will continue to monitor the situation. The changing weather never keeps outdoor smoke levels the same. BC does not have any specific precautions or adjustments to classes due to smoke, so students should take the general precautions that work for them,” said Rosalio Villegas, the Director of Public Safety at Bellevue College.  

Students with respiratory, heart and other health issues that make them vulnerable to the impacts of wildfire smoke should consider staying home. 

Ultimately, Bellevue College takes the well-being of its students and staff very seriously and urges them to be mindful of their surroundings, especially during times of extreme environmental conditions, when going about their day-to-day lives. Concerned students looking for updates should refer to the following links:,,,