Protecting Yourself From Ash During a Wildfire


"Howe Ridge Fire 2018" by GlacierNPS is marked with CC PDM 1.0

From Wednesday this week, the Cameron Peak fire (not pictured) has picked up speed due to wind.

The wildfires spreading across Colorado and the West Coast have meant ash clouds periodically looming over the NoCo area. Here are the do’s and don’ts for cleaning everything from vehicles to clothes.


  1. Cleaning Cars

Oftentimes, your car just has to be outside in an ash fall. Cleaning right after is the most effective way to protect your paint and keep your car running smoothly.

DO – Use pressurized water or a hose, rinse from the top down, close windows, and get your air filter cleaned.

DON’T – Wipe ash with a cloth including after rinsing, use windshield wipers unless necessary, or use recycled air in your car.


  1. House Cleaning

Even if you keep windows and doors closed during an ash fall, tracking in ash on your clothes or shoes is still detrimental to your air quality. 

DO – Change air filters frequently, clean any hard surface with ash on it with a damp cloth, and clean any electronics with compressed air.

DON’T – Clean with blowing air, keep windows open unless sweeping ash out, sweep with brooms, or use fans. 


  1. Clothes Cleaning

Hopefully you aren’t staying outside long enough to need this list, but in the event of heavy ash, keeping clothes clean can impact the ash going into your lungs and house.

DO – Rinse heavily ash coated clothes in water or shake, do small loads with extra water and detergent, and clean bottoms of shoes. 

DON’T – Overfill your washing machine or put clothes in the washer without dusting. 


  1. Pet Protection

If a pet can bear to not be out until a large portion of the ash fall is done, then keep them indoors. Here are tips if a furry friend needs to spend time outdoors.

DO – Brush pets after letting them outside, keep outside visits short.

DON’T – Let pets outside during times of heavy ash fall, let pets out for an extended amount of time, keep a water bowl outside. 


Wildfires are a scary force. Make sure that you’re communicating with family and neighbors and keeping each other safe. If you are evacuating, we hope you and your family stay safe and protected.