Wildfire Smoke and Children
Take extra care to protect children pdf icon[PDF – 534 KB]external icon against wildfire smoke. Children with asthma, allergies, or chronic health issues may have more trouble breathing when smoke or ash is present.
- Before wildfire season:
- Stock up on medicine. Store a 7 to 10-day supply of prescription medicines in a waterproof, childproof container to take with you if you evacuate.
- Buy groceries you won’t need to cook. Frying or grilling especially can make indoor air pollution worse.
- Talk to your child’s healthcare provider. If your child has asthma, allergies, or chronic health issues plan how they can stay indoors more often during a smoke event.
- During a wildfire smoke event:
- Pay attention to air quality reportsexternal icon. Follow instructions about exercise and going outside for “sensitive individuals.”
- Check for school closings.
- Remember that dust masks, surgical masks, bandanas and breathing through a wet cloth will not protect your child from smoke and that N95 respirator masks are not made to fit children and may not protect them.
- Think about evacuating if your child has trouble breathing or other symptoms that do not get better.
- If your child has severe trouble breathing, is very sleepy, or will not eat or drink, reduce their exposure to smoke and get medical help right away.
- After a wildfire:
- Do not return home until you are told it is safe to do so.
- Smoke can remain in both indoor and outdoor air days after wildfires have ended so continue to check local air quality.
- Children should not do any cleanup work
- Keep children away from ash pdf icon[PDF – 835 KB]external icon. Make sure ash and debris have been removed before you bring your child back home or to school. Avoid direct contact with ash and wash it off your child’s skin and mouth and rise it from his or her eyes as soon as you can.
- Look out for any symptoms. Contact your healthcare provider if your child has trouble breathing, shortness of breath, a cough that won’t stop, or other symptoms that do not go away. Call 9-1-1 or go right away to an emergency department for medical emergencies.
- Mask or Respirator Use by Children and Pregnant Women During Wildfire Smoke Eventspdf iconexternal icon
- How to Reduce Wildfire Smoke Exposure For Kids (infographic)pdf iconexternal icon
- Guidance for Health Professionals: Health Risks of Wildfires for Childrenexternal icon
- Guidance for Health Professionals: Protecting Children from Wildfire Smoke and Ashexternal icon
Page last reviewed: May 4, 2021
Content source: National Center for Environmental Health