More tips on reducing exposure to bushfire smoke

The insidious bushfire smoke that’s plaguing Australia won’t be letting up anytime soon so it’s time to consider the ways you can shield your home.

Close all windows, reduce outside air exposure

Unfortunately, without sealing your home, fine particles like smoke will always find a way inside. While completely hermetically sealing your home won’t be an option for most Australians (especially renters), there are a few steps you can take to minimise air leakage.

First and most obvious is closing all doors and windows (especially where an air purifier is present). Next, consider using door snakes (or draft stoppers) around the house to minimise the airflow through the gaps. It’s not going to be airtight but it’s a simple, budget solution that’s bound to help.

Next, look for any errant gaps around windows and doors. If it’s product of shoddy craftsmanship, you can always use a silicone sealant (like Sealys from Bunnings) to temporarily plug the gaps (though this probably isn’t recommended in rental properties). There are also more rental-friendly tapes, such as Rust-Oleum available through hardware stores.

It’s also worth checking cat flaps, architraves, fixed vents, floorboards, chimneys and downlights for air leakage (just to name a few).

For a more comprehensive guide on sealing your home, head over to yourhome.gov.au.

Vacuum daily

Yep. As tough as it sounds, vacuuming more regularly is a must for people living with lung disease or respiratory issues. It’s not going to help with the airborne smoke but when that smoke settles, it’s best to catch it before it embeds itself too deep in your carpet.

Vacuuming more regularly is particularly important for people renting in apartments where the carpet hasn’t been replaced for a long time. Lastly, shoot for a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter if you can manage to track one down.

Minimising exposure outside

Out and about, a face mask could help limit your exposure to bushfire smoke but not just any facemask sold at the chemist or supermarket. To effectively filter out bushfire smoke, you will need a P2-grade face mask (typically sold at hardware stores). You also need to check the packaging and make sure the mask you’re buying is capable of filtering out PM2.5 particles.

You also need to make sure that the mask is fitted correctly. Any gaps will allow toxic bushfire smoke to enter, rendering the mask near useless.

Get yourself a good weather app

Worried about how much energy you’ll consume running an air purifier all day, every day? Compared to a typical air conditioning system, the air purifiers we’ve tested are suprisingly energy efficient. Still, if it’s the smoke you are worried about and not everyday allergens, we’d recommend downloading  a quality weather monitoring app so you can schedule your air purifier accordingly.