How to Deal with Wildfire Smoke While RVing

By Samantha Lemna | July 18, 2019

Unfortunately it’s been a smoky past few summers across BC Alberta and parts of the Western United States. It’s hard enough dealing with wildfire smoke when you’re home when you’re in an RV it’s even more difficult. Here are our tips on how to deal with wildfire smoke while RVing:

  • Understand the risks.
  • Close up your RV.
  • Avoid producing additional smoke.
  • Reduce the effects of wildfire smoke.

Understand the Risks of Wildfire Smoke While RVing

Local news sources on radio television websites and social media can keep you up to date on wildfire status and air quality. You can also follow EmergencyInfoBC online or via Twitter or Alberta’s Emergency Alert online or on Twitter .

You can check the current air quality or forecasted air quality for many RVing destinations. The Government of Alberta provides an online Air Quality Health Index and the Government of BC has one as well .

Those at highest risk from wildfire smoke while RVing are those with a heart or lung condition. Pregnant women children and the elderly are also more likely to be affected. However everyone regardless of age or health can be negatively affected by poor air quality.

Symptoms can include:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Phlegm
  • Irritated throat
  • Irritated sinuses
  • Watery eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue

If you’re experiencing severe difficulties in breathing or chest pain you should call 911.

Close Up Your RV to Reduce the Effects of Wildfire Smoke

Close all of your windows and doors as well as any roof vents. Shut off anything that pulls air in from the outside such as an A/C unit. Close any registers and vents including those in the dashboard of a motorhome or tow vehicle.

If you’re driving ensure your vehicle’s fans are set to re-circulate instead of pulling external air inside. This will help the air quality in your vehicle.

Avoid Producing Additional Smoke

Avoid making a campfire or cooking with your barbeque even if they’re allowed. Use propane-powered stoves if you need to cook food. You should also avoid lighting candles or using any other smoke-producing appliances. You should also avoid running your generator.

Reducing the Impact of Wildfire Smoke While RVing

Your options may be a bit limited in your RV depending on its features and if you have a power source. A high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter or purifier is the most effective option to improve the air quality in your trailer or motorhome. We recommend powering it using solar or battery but if you must run the generator for a short time to help clear out the interior of your RV.

Surgical masks won’t help when it comes to wildfire smoke. The only masks that will help are respirator masks labelled with “N95.”

Staying hydrated helps your body deal with the symptoms of poor air quality. You can also use eye drops if you’re experiencing dry eyes.

Depending on how poor the air quality is you may need to head home or stay inside. If there are smoky conditions you may want to reduce your time outside or reschedule the strenuous hike for a more relaxed day.

We hope you don’t have to deal with wildfire smoke while RVing this summer but if you do we hope you’ll be a bit better prepared.