Information On Wildfires and Your Health

If you see or smell smoke...

  • Limit outdoor activities, especially exercise.
  • Stay indoors with windows and doors closed.
  • If you run an air conditioner, keep the filter clean and the fresh-air intake closed—use the recirculate setting.
  • Seek shelter outside of the affected area if  you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed.
  • Protect your pets and bring them indoors.
  • Keep car windows and vents closed and operate air conditioning in recirculate mode.
  • Seek medical attention if you experience repeated coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, nausea, or unusual fatigue or lightheadedness
  • Pay attention to local air quality reports and find current information at APCD at

Those at greater risk

  • Older adults
  • Children
  • Pregnant women
  • People with heart or lung disease

Pay attention to local air quality reports and find current information at APCD

Smoke concentrations can vary widely within a couple of miles and can change rapidly. Use this guide to learn how to estimate air quality based on visible range.


If you see ash...

  • Ash from burned structures may be more hazardous than that of burned vegetation, due to the presence of synthetic or toxic materials stored in or used in the building of the structure.
  • Do not allow children to play in ash or with toys soiled with ash.
  • Avoid skin contact—wear gloves, long sleeved shirts, and long pants.
  • Wash any ash off your skin ASAP.
  • Wash ash off of household pets.
  • Thoroughly wash your garden fruits and vegetables before eating them.
  • Use caution when cleaning up ash.
  • Well-fitting dust masks may provide some protection during cleanup only.
  • Use a damp cloth or wet mop on lightly dusted areas.
  • Do not use leaf blowers or shop vacs as they will blow small exhaust particles into the air. Vacuums with HEPA filters can be used.
  • Gently sweep hard surfaces followed by wet mopping.
  • Dispose of ash in the regular trash.

More Information

Fire Debris Hazards and Cleanup

Safe Cleanup of Ash from Burned Structures

Do not allow use of the pool until it has been properly cleaned according to these instructions: Swimming Pools Impacted by Smoke and Ash.

San Luis Obispo County Integrated Waste Management Authority at (805) 782-8530 or visit


Water Quality and Food Safety

Purifying Water

In a disaster such as a large magnitude earthquake or wildfire, water systems will most likely suffer damage and safe water will not be available. Unless you have stored water, you may have to use water from your water heater tank. This water would require disinfection in order to purify it. 

Post Disaster Water Well Recovery

Working on a water well after a disaster can be hazardous because in addition to the well and the area around the well, water storage, piping and electrical systems can also be damaged. Unless you are highly skilled, electrical and water system evaluations should be conducted by a qualified electrician or well contractor.

Food Safety Guidelines for Emergency Shelter & Mass Feeding Centers

Fire Recovery Disposal of Spoiled Food


County of San Luis Obispo APCD
Cal Fire
CDC Wildfires and Smoke
Disaster Preparedness and Response Information