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In the West, where smoky skies are nothing new, people are sharing their hard-won advice

Social media was filled with tips for Easterners, from donning N95 masks to making DIY air filters. "Welcome to hell," one woman posted.
Image: Heavy smog covers the skylines of the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan in New York on June 7, 2023.
Heavy smog covers the skylines of Brooklyn and Manhattan in New York on Tuesday. Ed Jones / AFP - Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — The strange and unexpected arrival of smoky skies in the eastern U.S. has residents scrambling to confront what many West Coast dwellers have been forced to live with for decades. 

Thick, orange smoke from Canadian wildfires shrouding much of the eastern United States is worsening air quality for millions of people and prompting residents from California to Montana to issue hard-earned advice on social media after years of dealing with smoky air caused by Western wildfires.

Wearing masks, avoiding strenuous exercise and using steam to clear respiratory systems are among the recommendations from people who have been there and done that. 

California native and TikTok influencer ClimateReadyHome said first-timers unsure of how to protect themselves should start by answering a simple set of questions: What is the air quality in your area? Are you a member of a sensitive or vulnerable group, such as someone who has a history of respiratory disease?

Once you determine risk factors, keep windows and doors shut and prepare to hunker down inside with an air filter.

Sacramento Bee opinion writer Robin Epley suggested wearing a mask and staying inside as much as possible.

Author Christopher Moore, who lives in San Francisco, tweeted that unused N95 masks acquired during the height of the pandemic can now be your "friends."

Author and California resident Megan O'Keefe suggested drinking more water than usual and avoiding strenuous exercise. She's right, according to health experts.

Writer Dani Burlison had some good tips for staying healthy, giving your lungs a break and making your bathroom smell wonderful.

"You can also drop eucaalyptus oil in your shower for an easy respiratory steam," she tweeted. "Solidarity from fire country."

Ever heard of a Corsi-Rosenthal box? Twitter user ResistOrBuild suggested using this DIY air filter if locating a professional one is out of the question. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, agree and created this tip sheet for making one at home.

Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Colorado, where wildfires and smoky skies are all too familiar, had some advice for Americans: Address climate change immediately and pay firefighters more.