Local report

Smoke from forest fires can pose health risks, particularly for people with respiratory problems or chronic heart disease. There are steps you can take, however, to minimize smoke inhalation in your home.

Seal it up

Although it can be tempting to get the air moving in your house, especially when it's hot, keeping doors and windows open lets in all kinds of smoke, ash and particles. Also, avoid using fans that circulate in air from outside, including bathroom fans, kitchen exhaust fans or even your dryer for your clothes. Try to rely on indoor ceiling or box fans that recirculate the air already in your home.

Upgrade your filter

Air conditioners are always more efficient with a clean filter, and basic ones should typically be replaced quarterly or more often, depending on air quality. A more effective step, though, is to upgrade to an electrostatic filter. Because smoke particles are so small, they can slip through the basic filters, but electrostatic filters attract even the smallest particles and make them stick with magnetic charges. These filters can range in price anywhere from $16 to $30, but they need to be changed less frequently.

Buzz Thielemann from RHT Energy recommends getting the highest strength of electrostatic filter possible for a marked difference in air quality, because "as expensive as they are, they're cheaper than a doctor's visit," he said.

Keep an eye on your symptoms

Check in with your doctor about what is or isn't healthy for you to be doing when smoke is in the air. If you can, avoid exercising outside, stay indoors and while driving, use your air conditioner on recirculation only. Figure out what medications or changes are best to keep your breathing as normal as possible.