Preparing for More Smoky Summers in the Midwest and Northeast

The Midwest and Northeast regions of the United States have experienced an alarming increase in the frequency and intensity of smoky summers, especially this summer. The haze of smoke, often originating from distant wildfires in Canada, has become a recurring phenomenon, posing numerous challenges for the affected communities. It is crucial to adopt a proactive approach towards preparing for these smoky summers.

To effectively prepare for smoky summers, it is essential to comprehend the underlying causes and their consequences. Climate change, along with increased wildfire activity in regions farther afield, has contributed to the elevated levels of smoke in the Midwest and Northeast. These smoke plumes can travel vast distances, leading to reduced air quality, impaired visibility, and negative impacts on respiratory health. By acknowledging these factors, communities can better comprehend the urgency of preparation.

Raising awareness about the risks associated with smoky summers is crucial for empowering individuals and communities to take appropriate action. Local authorities should prioritize public education campaigns, disseminating information on the health effects of smoke exposure, methods for reducing personal exposure, and the availability of resources such as air quality monitoring tools and protective equipment. Engaging with community organizations, schools, and healthcare providers will help ensure that everyone receives the necessary information.

To address the challenges posed by smoky summers, communities should develop robust emergency response plans. These plans should include clear guidelines for evacuations, the establishment of temporary shelters, and communication protocols for disseminating critical information.

Local authorities must collaborate with relevant agencies, such as fire departments, environmental agencies, and health departments, to develop comprehensive and coordinated response strategies. Regular drills and simulations will enable communities to practice and refine their emergency plans.

As smoky summers result in compromised outdoor air quality, it is essential to create cleaner indoor environments. Ensuring that homes, schools, and workplaces have proper air filtration systems is vital. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters can effectively remove fine particles and smoke from indoor air. Individuals should be encouraged to minimize the use of indoor pollutants such as tobacco smoke, candles, and harsh cleaning chemicals, which can exacerbate respiratory problems during smoky conditions.

Individuals can take proactive steps to protect themselves during smoky summers. Wearing N95 or P100 respirators, which are specifically designed to filter out fine particles, can significantly reduce smoke exposure when spending time outdoors. Limiting outdoor activities, especially during peak smoke hours, and seeking indoor environments with clean air are also important strategies. Vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly, and individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions, should take extra precautions and consult healthcare professionals for personalized guidance.

As smoky summers become more prevalent in the Midwest and Northeast regions, proactive preparation is essential for safeguarding the health and well-being of residents. By understanding the causes and effects of smoky conditions, enhancing awareness and communication, developing emergency response plans, improving indoor air quality, and implementing personal protective measures, communities can mitigate the risks associated with smoke exposure. A collaborative effort involving individuals, communities, and authorities is crucial in preparing for and adapting to the challenges of more smoky summers in the future.

To track smoke, air quality and fire information, you can access the following site.

For more information contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at .


Conservation Corner is a weekly article produced by the Forest County Land & Water Conservation Department. For more information contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at .