Protection from Forest Fire smoke

I have vacation scheduled to Arizona 7/25, rafting in the Grand Canyon for a week.  There are forest fires all around, and the smoke travels and settles in the canyon in the heavier night air.  I am allergic/sensitive to all kinds of smoke, so am worried about having respiratory problems breathing at night .  Does anyone know of a good mask that protects against smoke?  I'll probably need one that I can sleep in (comfortable and easy to breathe through).  I will not have access to a store to get a new one if the mask I bring isn't working, so I am hoping your suggestions will help me make a good first pick. Thanks to any and all suggestions!


Comments 18

  • K8sMom2002

    Welcome, Dee! That sounds like a fun trip! I know several members use masks for a variety of different activities. 

    We have one here that may get you started. I know that @Pljohns has used a mask at work before, and several other members have as well, including @GigiGibson.

    What other things are you doing to plan for your upcoming trip? Do you have a way to keep your ? Kathy P just started a thread about that this weekend.

  • Melanie Carver

    Hi @Dee Jacobs, welcome to our asthma support community.

    Your upcoming trip sounds very exciting. Are you able to meet with your doctor before you go? If you can, I really recommend it. The bottom of the canyon is about as remote as you can get and so you may want to pack extra emergency medications (which may require new Rx). Also, review your asthma action plan – your doctor may have you change/increase your medicines during your trip, etc.

    I'd also recommend taking at least 2 options for the mask because of temperature issues -it's going to be hot during the day, chillier at night, and you may need to switch it up depending on temperature, sweat, etc. 

    Best of luck on your adventures and we'd love to hear how your trip went when you get back!

  • Dee Jacobs

    My doctor has been on vacation last 2 weeks, but I have a message in to him and they assure me he will get back to me.

    Thanks for the tip for 2 different masks for day & night.

    Planning on a variety of remedy solutions for various reactions: eye drops (3 kinds), goggles (for a complete barrier if needed), benadryl, sinus rinse, nasal spray, various supplements to support the immune system, and of course the masks.

  • Kathy P

    I second talking to the doctor and asking about backup meds and contingency plans. I'm currently working with my doctor on planning a trip to Mexico to participate in a long bike ride. We are working on having my asthma in optimal control plus having a plan and meds if there is the slightest hint of a flare to act quickly before it can get any worse. I hope you can check in with the doctor before you leave. Sounds like a fun trip!

  • Jen

    @Dee Jacobs Welcome to AAFA's support forums.  Will you be driving or flying to Arizona?

  • Dee Jacobs

    Flying. So glad you asked!  Your question triggered the thought that I probably need to wear a mask on the plane too.  The air is so full of germs, I almost always catch a sinus infection.  

  • K8sMom2002

    Good that you thought of that! Can you ask your doctor for a just-in-case prescription for a sinus infection? 

    Also, here's  — even though it won't be the peak cold and flu season, these tips may help you ward off catching a bug during your flight and your travel. It has a link to a about staying healthy during the cold and flu season.

    I'm so excited for you to be traveling to the Grand Canyon! It's a place I've always wanted to go, but I've never been. How did you come to pick this particular destination? What sorts of things are you hoping to experience while you're there?

  • K8sMom2002

    @Dee Jacobs, just checking to see if you were able to get a mask for your vacation and talk with your doctor before you left. Hope you have a great time!

  • Jen

    @Dee Jacobs How was your vacation?  Any issues on the plane or with forest fire smoke?

  • Megan Roberts

    Curious to see who else in our community is struggling with the challenge of living in an area with wildfire smoke, as a lot of the NW of the country is still trying to control many different wildfires.  This is the air quality map right now:

    …which is MUCH better than it was last week, but we still have many community members who would be sensitive to even moderate levels of air quality.

    Do you live near a wildfire or have high humidity right now?  How have you been coping?  I've heard people in different forums say they are spending more time indoors, and trying to make sure they maintain good indoor air quality to help with symptoms during those times, too.  What else are you doing to make breathing easier when the conditions outside are tough on your asthma?  

  • Dee Jacobs

    I wore a mask most nights, a comfy cotton one from Amazon, but was surprised that the smoke wasnt as bad in the canyon as I was led to anticipate. Very much relieved!

    Definitely wore the mask on the plane rides! It's awkward, but I'm so much better off in better health, not catching the germs from the recycled air. 

    I discovered that the tour guides smoked cigarettes. I was told they didn't. That presented a delicate situation because they were aware of my allergy and trying to smoke without my knowing.  I would smell it and not know where it was coming from, and not know where to go to get away from it. I discovered it was the guides one day while rafting. (I was also told they didn't allow smoking on the river rafts by the way). The night of the orientation, while talking to the guide about my allergies, she said to let her know if there was a problem, that open communication was the best. So I took that approach.

    When we had a few moments on the trip, I asked if I could 'break the ice' and discuss the smoking. I said I didn't mind that they smoked, that it's a situation I deal with in public, but that I just needed to know so that I could take the appropriate precautions. I admitted that I was caught off guard, uncomfortable, and felt misled in finding out the the guides smoked. And she admitted she was embarrassed about her smoking and preferred to hide it. She was understanding of my allergies and asked me to be sure to tell her if there was a problem. And there was one occasion, because of the way the  camp set up and the location of their smoking, that I wasn't able to go upwind from them, so they made adjustments.

    I was certainly encouraged by the open communication. The comments in this group helped me take more of a realistic approach that smoke allergies are more common than I thought, and reasonable solutions to these situations are possible.

    It was an amazing, beautiful trip of a lifetime!!

  • Dee Jacobs

    I've wondered if there are any types of oxygen masks we can get as a consumer. Does anyone know?

  • Megan Roberts

    Wow, what a stunning view, @Dee Jacobs!!  Thanks for sharing.  I applaud the way you communicated your needs with the tour guides to ensure your needs were taken care of without making them feel further embarrassed.  It was compassionate and direct.  Glad that aspect worked out despite being a challenge you weren't expecting to deal with!  

  • Jen

    Dee – Great pic, thanks for sharing! I'm glad that open communication worked in your favor.  As for the oxygen masks, have you asked your doctor what might be available?

  • Jen

    @Dee Jacobs Were you able to find an oxygen mask?  Do you have any upcoming travel planned?