Become Smoke Ready

Smoke Ready Week is June 12-16. Prepare yourself for wildfire smoke this summer by knowing what to look out for and how to reduce your exposure.

Breathing clean air is a basic human right, and it can be put at risk through the increased presence of air pollutants, ultimately affecting our health and our ability to enjoy outdoor spaces.

The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency (SRCAA) measures and reports levels of three key air pollutants: fine particulate matter, coarse particulate matter, and ground-level ozone.

Ground-level ozone is most prevalent in the summer months under hot and sunny conditions. Compounds evaporated from common products (gasoline, paints, solvents, etc.) undergo a photochemical reaction to form ground-level ozone.  

Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is mostly comprised of smoke and soot. It comes from combustion sources, such as motor vehicles, outdoor burning, wood heating, and wildfires. Fine particles are so small (2.5 microns in diameter and smaller), they are easily inhaled and travel deep into the lungs. Coarse particulate matter (PM10) is also harmful to breathe. These larger particles come mainly from resuspended road dust, open fields, and unpaved lots.

During the summer, residents of the Inland Northwest and neighboring areas are often affected by dense smoke from local and regional wildfires. Local libraries operate as Safer Air Centers when activated by the City of Spokane to provide community members with cleaner air indoors. To understand how the elements of our quality affect our well-being and health, it is important to monitor local air quality and take necessary precautions.

“We will continue to experience unhealthful levels of wildfire smoke, especially during the summer and early fall months. Therefore, it’s important for everyone to know where to access current air quality data and the recommended actions to reduce exposure to harmful smoke particles,” said Lisa Woodard, Communications/Outreach Manager for SRCAA.

Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency and Spokane Public Library (SPL) now offer hand-held AQgo air quality sensors through SPL’s Library of Things for the community to use for free with their library card. These sensors can be used to measure fine particles indoors and outside. It’s a tool to help gauge how air quality varies depending on where you live.

Since there are a variety of factors affecting your local air, the Air Quality Index (AQI) in one area may differ from the AQI across the city. Typically, during a wildfire smoke event, the AQI tracks fairly closely throughout the area. However, there are times when a localized event, like a house fire, may send one monitor a lot higher than the rest of the city. This is why it’s important to check the air quality monitoring map for the monitoring location closest to you. In addition, all Spokane Public Library locations host PurpleAir sensors you can check for the approximate AQI near your location.

With wildfire season approaching, it’s important to know how you can keep yourself safe from harmful air. SRCAA and the Spokane Regional Health District provide many wildfire smoke resources on their respective websites. Here are some steps to get you started:

  • Checking the Air Quality Index (AQI) is the first step. Conditions can change rapidly during wildfire smoke season. For hourly updates, visit or
  • When the air quality is unhealthy, you can reduce your exposure several ways, including:
    • Limit or avoid active time outdoors
    • Keep windows and doors closed
    • Switch air conditioners to the “recirculate” mode (at home and in the car).
    • Create a “cleaner-air” space in your home using a HEPA filter
    • Avoid adding to indoor pollution by not smoking or using candles, incense, sprays, fireplaces, or gas stoves. Vacuuming and frying food should also be avoided.
    • Use the best filter your HVAC system will handle.
    • Check vehicle air filters and replace as necessary.
    • Reduce risk factors for children and pets by checking in with caretakers to see their plans for smoky conditions.