COVID-19 Considerations for Cleaner Air Shelters and Cleaner Air Spaces to Protect the Public from Wildfire Smoke

This doc offers interim steerage to cut back the danger of introducing and transmitting SARS-CoV-2 (the virus liable for inflicting COVID-19) in cleaner air shelters and cleaner air areas. Cleaner air shelters and cleaner air areas are public areas the place folks can search aid from wildfire smoke. This interim steerage is meant to be used by federal, state, native, and tribal jurisdictions within the United States. It must be used along side current cleaner air shelter info, procedures, steerage, and sources.


Wildfire smoke is a public well being concern within the United States. Exposure to wildfire smoke can result in eye and respiratory tract irritation, exacerbations of current respiratory and cardiovascular situations, and untimely dying.

Cleaner air shelters are utilized by many communities to supply areas the place folks can shelter in a single day or for prolonged intervals of time. School gymnasiums, buildings at public fairgrounds, and civic auditoriums are examples of areas used as cleaner air shelters throughout wildfires. Cleaner air areas are utilized by many communities to supply short-term aid from wildfire smoke; they’re typically utilized by people who can not create areas with adequately clear air of their properties. Examples of cleaner air areas embody libraries, museums, purchasing malls, senior facilities, and different indoor areas with efficient particle filtration and air con.

The use of cleaner air shelters and cleaner air areas may end up in congregating of teams of individuals, together with older adults and people with coronary heart or lung situations. Congregation of individuals in cleaner air shelters and cleaner air areas can doubtlessly present a route for the transmission of SARS CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, amongst people utilizing the services, workers, and volunteers.

Preparedness Activities and Potential Intervention Strategies

Screening and Alternative Sites for Symptomatic and Asymptomatic Individuals

If sources can be found, think about implementing verbal screening or temperature checks upon arrival at cleaner air shelters and cleaner air areas and frequently thereafter. If attainable, present separate areas for these displaying symptoms of COVID-19 (i.e., cough, fever, shortness of breath). Separate areas could embody separate rooms inside cleaner air shelters and cleaner air areas or separate areas that can be utilized to accommodate people with signs of COVID-19. Most individuals with COVID-19 infections will doubtless have delicate signs, or no signs, and never require hospital care. Be ready to contact emergency officers (name 911) within the case of extreme sickness requiring medical help.

Physical Distancing

Maintain social (bodily) distancing inside cleaner air shelters and cleaner air areas. Spaces must be organized in order that there may be a minimum of six toes between people, no matter whether or not they present signs of COVID-19. Consider separation of furnishings and creating partitioned areas for particular person household items (households who dwell collectively don’t want to keep up bodily distancing in a cleaner air shelter or cleaner air area). Floor markings, reminiscent of with tape, can be utilized to mark distances between partitioned areas. Smaller services can restrict the variety of people utilizing the cleaner air shelters and cleaner air areas, in accordance with state and native pointers that restrict the dimensions of gatherings. This might decrease capability, so think about organising a bigger variety of smaller cleaner air shelters or cleaner air areas. Communities would possibly think about partnering with closed companies, reminiscent of film theaters, which may function various cleaner air areas.

Preparation of Cleaner Air Shelters and Cleaner Air Spaces

Cleaner air shelters and cleaner air areas must be ready utilizing current details about the identification and preparation of areas to guard the general public from wildfire smoke. Minimum necessities for air con and air filtration are described in Appendix B of Wildfire Smoke: A Guide for Public Health Officialspdf iconexternal icon. At minimal, services ought to have central air con with filtration that’s medium or excessive effectivity, particularly on the contemporary (out of doors) air consumption. Facilities ought to proceed to supply air filtration that’s ample for the anticipated variety of occupants within the area. Portable air cleaners can be utilized in areas that may obtain a smoke clear air supply price (CADR) of a minimum of 2/three of the room quantity. Air filtration shouldn’t be relied on for controlling the unfold of COVID-19; air filtration pointers are primarily for lowering indoor concentrations of wildfire smoke.

If separate areas in the identical constructing are wanted to separate people with and with out COVID-19 signs, you will need to make sure that air doesn’t circulation from the area sheltering people with COVID-19 to the area sheltering others. To achieve this, it could be essential to work with a certified heating, air flow, and air con (HVAC) skilled.


Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cleaning and disinfection guidelines for community facilities, and details about cleaning and disinfecting buildings and facilities if someone is sick. Even people with no signs can transmit SARS-CoV-2 and the virus can survive for a number of days on arduous (non-porous) surfaces. Therefore, you will need to proceed routine cleansing and disinfection a minimum of every single day with a give attention to excessive contact surfaces, together with these in frequent areas and loos, utilizing an EPA-registered disinfectant on List Nexternal icon or a properly diluted bleach solution.


Enhance onsite communication about COVID-19. Use well being messages and supplies developed by credible public well being sources, reminiscent of your state and native public well being departments and CDC. Read extra about everyday preventive actions. Share or submit COVID-19 posters and fact sheets to maintain folks knowledgeable about public well being suggestions to stop illness unfold. Messaging could embody:

  • Posting indicators at entrances and in strategic locations offering instruction on:
  • Providing instructional supplies about COVID-19 for non-English audio system, as wanted
  • Encouraging unwell workers and volunteers to remain residence (or to go residence in the event that they develop signs whereas on the facility) to stop transmitting the an infection to others

Identify and deal with potential language, cultural, and incapacity obstacles related to speaking COVID-19 info to workers, volunteers, and people utilizing the cleaner air shelters and cleaner air areas. Learn extra about reaching people of diverse languages and cultures.

Prevention Supplies

If obtainable, present COVID-19 prevention provides onsite at cleaner air shelters and cleaner air areas. Have provides, reminiscent of cleaning soap, alcohol-based hand sanitizers that comprise a minimum of 60% alcohol, tissues, and trash baskets readily available. Staff, volunteers, and people utilizing the cleaner air shelters and cleaner air areas ought to put on a cloth face covering, or if provides can be found, be given a clear disposable facemaskpdf icon, even when they aren’t displaying any signs. Cloth face coverings shouldn’t be positioned on younger kids underneath 2 years of age, anybody who has hassle respiration, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or in any other case unable to take away the masks with out help. Place posters that encourage handwashing on the entrance to the ability, at sinks in restrooms, and in different areas the place they’re prone to be seen. If water bottles are distributed, make sure that bottles or glasses usually are not shared.

Utility Assistance

Consider implementing or increasing packages that present utility help, such because the low-income residence power help program (LIHEAP) or comparable strategies that present monetary help for residence air conditioner use. A short lived ban on utility shut offs throughout wildfires would enable folks to proceed utilizing residence air con and transportable air cleaners. This technique might decrease the quantity of people that can not keep of their properties throughout wildfire smoke occasions and the variety of folks utilizing cleaner air shelters and cleaner air areas.

Staff and Volunteers

Plan for workers and volunteer absences. Develop versatile attendance and sick-leave insurance policies. Staff and volunteers ought to observe CDC interim guidance to prevent workplace exposures and keep residence when they’re sick. They can also want to remain residence when they’re caring for a sick family member or their kids throughout college dismissals. Identify crucial job capabilities and positions, and plan for various protection by cross-training cleaner air shelter and cleaner air area workers and volunteers.


See for extra details about COVID-19.

For extra info on the well being results of wildfire smoke and lowering publicity to wildfire smoke, see:

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