Will a mask help protect me and my children from wildfire smoke?
Yes, some types of masks can protect you and your children from breathing in wildfire smoke. Some outdoor activities can still take place during smoke events (see Air Quality Index (AQI) below), but your child should not participate in outdoor activities more than usual (like playing sports) just because they are wearing a mask. Remember that masks can help your child breathe less smoke, but they still breathe some smoke, especially if they are being active.
What is the best type of mask?
The best masks to reduce your child’s exposure to wildfire smoke are called respirators (like N95s). These are recommended:
- If your child is age 7 or older, their face will likely fit an adult small N95.
- If your child is age 2 to age 7, it is less likely that you will be able to find an N95 that will fit their face well. However, there are child size medical/surgical masks that may fit their face.
Children should only wear masks if they are over age 2 and are able to tell you if they are uncomfortable.
How can I find a good mask for my child?
When looking for a mask for your child, you want to think about these three things:
- How well does the material filter?
- How easy is the material to breathe through?
- How tightly does the mask fit my child’s face? The mask should fully cover the nose and
mouth without gaps around the nose, cheeks, and chin.
How do I know if my air quality is bad during wildfire smoke events?
Visit airnow.gov for information about the air quality index (AQI) value based on your zip code.
Consider using a mask for children, pregnant people, and those with underlying health conditions when the AQI is higher than 151 if smoke is making them cough or if smoke events last more than a few days.
If you want to know about specific conditions in your local area (fire locations, smoke plumes, and more localized air quality information), you can look at the map at fire.airnow.gov