September is National Preparedness Month

Prepare for disasters to protect your
family’s health and indoor air quality

Knowing how to prepare for and respond to emergencies can help protect you and your family’s health. No matter where you live, consider preparing a family emergency supply kit that includes some essentials that you may need when a disaster happens:

Emergencies and disasters can affect indoor environments by worsening existing indoor air quality issues and introducing new ones. Since we spend most of our time indoors, don’t forget to consider your indoor air quality when making your preparedness plans.

Below are three preparedness tips to protect indoor air quality and health during and after disasters.


Tip 1: NEVER use portable generators indoors! Place them outside and at least 20 feet from all homes.

Portable generators that run on gasoline, natural gas or kerosene emit toxic fumes, including carbon monoxide (CO)CO poisoning can be fatal. Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning from portable generators during power outages by learning how to use them safely and make sure your home is equipped with one or more functioning CO alarms.

To safely use a fuel-powered portable generator, place it 20 feet from all homes.


Tip 2: Reduce your family’s exposure to wildfire smoke with a portable air cleaner or by adjusting your HVAC system.

Smoke over downtown San Francisco.Wildfire smoke can enter your home and make the indoor air unhealthy to breathe. If you live in an area where the wildfire risk is high, learn more about what you can do now to protect your family from wildfire smoke, such as:

  • Consider purchasing a portable air cleaner and/or upgrading to a higher-efficiency HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) filter.
  • Know how to adjust your HVAC system or air conditioner to keep smoke out.
  • Consider purchasing N95 respirator masks.

Tip 3: Use protective clothing and gear to clean up your home after a flood.

If you live in an area where the flooding risk is high, be prepared for the hazards (like mold) that are found in a flooded home. Protective clothing and gear may not always be available after a disaster. Here are some items you may want to add to your preparedness supplies:

  • N-95 respirators,
  • goggles,
  • pants,
  • long-sleeve shirts, and
  • gloves

N-95 respirators can protect you from breathing in dust, microorganisms and mold spores. You can usually find them at hardware stores and online.

Learn about the proper steps to clean your home after a flood to protect your family’s health.

Drawing of a man in long pants, long sleeved shirt, work boots, gloves, goggles and and N-95 respirator.

Join the conversation by using these hashtags: #NationalPreparednessMonth, #DisastersDontWait, #BeReady.

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