As New York and Hell’s Kitchen’s air quality hits “hazardous” conditions, we’ve pulled together some of the best advice to keep you safe. As well as hints and tips from around the web, we’ve also got our own DIY video on creating an air purifier at home.

Hell's Kitchen wildfire smoke
Sacred Heart Church in Hell’s Kitchen shrouded by Canadian wildfire smoke. Photo: Catie Savage

• Wildfire smoke contains microscopic particles that can infiltrate your respiratory system, causing potential health problems such as burning eyes, aggravated lung and heart diseases, and in severe cases, premature death.

• Anyone with lung or heart diseases, older adults, children and expectant mothers should exercise extreme caution. However, the current conditions advise everyone to stay indoors if possible.

• Keep the indoor air clean by using a portable air cleaner, a DIY air cleaner, or running your HVAC system’s fan. Here is our short video on making a DIY air purifier at home. The EPA has a useful PDF explaining how to do this too — and you are advised to use the more substantial accordion-style filters, if available.

Catie Savage shows how to make a DIY air purifier.

• While remaining indoors is a recommended precaution, microscopic particles can still infiltrate homes and pose a risk to indoor air quality.

• Preventing the smoke from entering your home and car is critical. This includes keeping windows and doors closed, sealing off HVAC systems, window air conditioners and ensuring a tight seal between air conditioners and windows. The EPA provides detailed instructions on these steps here.

• If you live in a large apartment building, running your A/C system should be safe. If your home has a window A/C unit, placing a wet towel on your window sill or door can help absorb incoming smoke.

• Avoid activities that increase indoor air pollution, such as smoking, using gas or wood-burning furnaces, spraying aerosol products, frying or boiling food, burning candles, and vacuuming without a HEPA filter.

Gary Hershorn from ESB wildfire smoke
The view from the Empire State Building this afternoon looking west as Canadian wildfire smoke engulfs the city. Photo: Gary Hershorn

• Stay updated about the air quality index in your area with NYC’s real-time air quality portal and monitor the flow from Canada here

Avoiding heavy exercise outdoors is also advised as you will breathe in the toxins more deeply. Gothamist said today: “Go easy on the jogging, tennis and even pickleball.”

Hell's Kitchen sun after wildfire smoke
The good news is that the sun made a brief appearance again late this afternoon. Photo: Phil O’Brien

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  1. Another excellent app is Very easy to use and to understand. It can be customized for any location in the country.

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