Evans Wilson and his wife Alicia were recently affected by the smoke from the wildfires that raged through the West Coast. Evans was diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), pulmonary fibrosis (PF) in October 2014 and chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) in December 2016. This is his story.
By Evans Wilson
My wife and I live near Seattle, which recently had the worst air quality in the world for eight straight days due to smoke. We purchased a portable air purifier last year in anticipation of smoke, but it is only rated for 1,300 square feet. Our house is 2,104 square feet. Our purifier color codes the air quality in the home. It goes from blue (best), through green, orange, red and eventually purple (worst).
We normally use it only when cooking but woke up Sept. 9 to a strong smell of chemical-laced smoke inside the house. We turned the unit on to an instant purple. We had to shrink the house to get to clean air.
We closed off the upstairs. We unplugged and turned off the furnace to prevent outside air from entering. We hung sheets on the main floor to close off the living room and bedrooms from the dining and family room and kitchen, where we took up residence. We put a mattress on the floor in the family room. We also had three box fans with filters running to circulate the air in our space.
We moved my oxygen machine into the clean-air section of the house. We had clean air within 45 minutes. If I opened the door to the outside for even a brief moment, our purifier would go from blue to orange and then eventually work back to blue. A couple people from my PF support group had to go on oxygen 24/7 after exposure to smoke in 2018. I only use oxygen at night.
Our solutions to the problem were a bit makeshift, but they worked to provide us clean air for the full eight days without any impact on my breathing. I strongly recommend owning a high-quality purifier. Ours cost about $700 but was well worth it.
Do you live in an area affected by recent wildfires, hurricanes or other emergency situations like Evans? Let the PH community know how you’re managing and what precautions you took. Submit your story here, and read more stories from PHA’s Right Heart Blog.