Can N95 masks keep you safe from ongoing wildfires?

California state has seen some of the major wildfires in the single year of 2020. The year has proven to be the most drastic and horrific period in the history of the Americans. Major power blackouts, raging wildfires, rising temperatures, climate change effects, COVID-19, along with the various other problems caused some of the great troubles in the lives of the Americans. The conditions due to these wildfires are so serious that going out for a moment can aggravate asthma and other respiratory problems.

Wildfires in California and other parts of the world have raised the pollution index and now more and more people are facing respiratory problems. Earlier this year, when Australian bushfires erupted, millions of the wildlife animals and birds were affected and at the same time, millions of the people were affected due to the smoke caused by these wildfires. The burning of wood is the major source of CO2 emission in the atmosphere.

Accumulation of the C02 can cause suffocation and serious respiratory problems. The same happened in California during various wildfires. These wildfires have lowered the level of air quality and are causing severe problems. People are using various types of protective measures to protect themselves from the harsh effects of these wildfires on their health and environment.

Safety Guidelines and N95 Respirators

Fire workers and state departments are battling against the wildfires and trying to stop them. Health and safety guidelines have been issued by the departments for the general public for protection. People have been asked to stay at home, until and unless the effects of the wildfires start slowing down. Health departments have advised the use of various face masks as protection. Different face mask models are being used by the general public for this purpose. However, the use of n95 respirators has also seen some positive responses.

N95 respirators are the face protections, that fit tightly on the face and block almost all of the incoming particles. During the COVID-19, the N95s have proven themselves as the best told to protect themselves from the virus. So, the CDC and the FDA have also advised the use of these N95s during the wildfires as the best protection. However, there is some limitation with the use of N95 respirators during the wildfires.

N95 respirators with the valve allow heat to go outside. But the heat accumulation during the high temperatures is not even an option. People are already facing the problem of extreme temperatures, and if at the same time heat is accumulated at the face, it can cause serious problems for users. So, it is necessary to use such N95 models that do not allow the accumulation of the heat.

The health guides issued by the San Francisco Department of Public Health, clearly state that these N95s can be helpful during the wildfires. The best protection is to stay at home and remove the negative effects of the smoke. However, while going outside the use of the N95 respirator can help the best.

California Department of Public Health and N95s

On the other hand, the guidelines issued by the California Department of Public Health show that the use of N95 respirators at places where there is low oxygen percentage can cause severe breathing problems. Confined spaces or places where there is low oxygen in the atmosphere can cause suffocation problems for the wearer of N95s. Secondly, in places where there is high toxicity level of the vapors or gases, the use of N95 masks is not suitable. It is due to the reason that, these gases might accumulate in the N95 mask and cause severe uncomfortable breathing issues.

So, apart from these N95 respirators, various other types of face masks can be useful during the wildfires. All of these face masks have been checked for their quality and effectiveness during the wildfires and then approved for use by the general public.

Gas Masks

Gas masks are one of the finest masks available in the market to protect from the smoke in wildfires. The smoke contains various chemicals and gases and these gases can affect the health of a person drastically. So, the use of this gas mask as compared to the N95 respirator can be more useful and beneficial.

Power Air Purifying Respirator

This power air-purifying respirator is the most powerful face mask which expels the air out of it when it reaches. The air containing various gases and contaminants reaches the mask, the cartridges filter the particles and then propels it out with force. This respirator can be much more effective than the normal N95 respirators and gas masks.

Surgical or Medical Masks

People facing breathing problems, cannot afford to use the respirators or masks with dense material or which can block the air out. However, it is still necessary for them to use masks, to have protection against the pollutants. Surgical masks are easier to wear and these masks can block the contaminants in efficient ways. Normally, they are used for the medical staff to block out the chemicals inside hospital facilities from causing the infections. However, they can be used by the general public as well for protection against the smoke.


N95 respirators are no doubt the best respirators that can block 95% of the particles. But they are not the best ones during the wildfires. So, the different options available in the market can be tried. The N95 may not be the best option, still, they can be used effectively.

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