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Remedies for Surviving Wildfires and Dust Storms with COPD 

Mom liked to feel like she had things under control. With COPD, she did her best to keep her environment where the air was safe and easy to breathe. Some circumstances left her frustrated. Dust storms and wildfires could be out of control and leave her powerless. You may have figured out by now, that our whole family heard from mom when she was unable to breathe well. She called each of us kids to ask our opinion about what to do. If one of our answers didn’t provide a solution, she just went on to the next. One time when she was staying with her cousin in Montana, wildfires hit. She was there for a month and was pretty distressed. My sister told her to use her puffer. That wasn’t enough, and I was next in line. Thankfully, I had some good answers.

Cool air

Mom usually breathed easiest if the air was cool. When she called, I asked about the air conditioning. Sure enough, the mild mountain air meant that he did not have a central air unit. During the heat of the day, they used an attic fan with open windows. When the sun went down, the air quickly cooled. Turns out, there was a spare bedroom with a window unit, and I suggested she move in there. Within hours, she was in a cooler, humidity controlled environment. What a relief!

Filtered air

It was a large enough town that they had a hardware store. Her cousin found a small air filtering unit for mom. He plugged it in beside the bed. They kept the door closed, and soon, the air became cleaner for her.

Home remedy

I’ve never heard this discussed before, except by my grandma, so you might test it out and see if it works for you. During the Oklahoma dust bowl days, my mom was a baby. We had always heard stories about how grandma helped to keep the fine silt from coming into the house. She used every available sheet to cover the windows and doors. The trick was, she soaked them in water first. Since every house had a pump for well water in the kitchen sink, she would dampen the sheets until they fairly dripped. Small nails were used to “tack” them up inside the front and back door. Some sheets were cut into smaller pieces and used to cover the inside of the windows. When they became too dirty, or when the wind died down, she simply replaced them with a clean wet sheet. You can do the same thing with a cool wet cloth over your face.

I reminded mom of that when she was in Montana during the wildfires. She began to hang a wet sheet over the inside of her window where she slept. Her cousin used one on the inside of the door, and also over the front of the fireplace.

Stay inside

The first rule is to avoid smoky or dusty air. Morning is the best time to be out when the air is cooler, but staying inside ensures less smoke, dust, and distress.

These tips may help you breathe easier. I know mom had a great trip, played a lot of cards and made memories by making these adjustments. If you happen to live near a place where you need tips for surviving wildfires and dust storms with COPD, I hope this brings some relief.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Barbara Moore moderator
    12 months ago

    Hi Karen Hoyt, This article is something that some of us have not been exposed to before, in fact, until this year I hadn’t really thought of the effects of wild fires.
    Thank you for you timely tips and tricks. Sometimes it is no possible to stay inside so going out of doors wisely is the key.
    Barbara Moore (Site Moderator)

  • Karen Hoyt author
    12 months ago


    Thank you! Fire really can suck the O2 out of the air and make it difficult to breathe.

    It was funny how grandma’s old stories about the Dust Bowl days came in handy!

    I wonder if anyone else has ever heard of the moist cloth over their window cracks, doors, mouth during a dust storm?

    I hope to hear!

    Thanks again and nice to meet you on here!
    xo Karen

  • Barbara Moore moderator
    12 months ago

    So much of Grandma’s stories make sense now. I should had paid more attention.

    Barbara Moore (site Moderator)

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