Staying Safe From Indoor Air Pollution This Winter


As we begin to see colder temperatures and spend more time inside, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) encourages Californians to use the below tips to minimize the risk of indoor air pollution. 

Californians may be familiar with days of poor or dangerous outdoor air quality that happen during wildfire season. But did you know that, especially during winter months, you should take steps to promote good indoor air quality too?  

Here are a few things you can do:  

Check the batteries on your smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm and make sure it is in working condition. Heating sources may release carbon monoxide, which can build up as we keep windows and doors closed more often when it’s cold outside. If you don’t have these alarms, get them.  

Never use a generator inside. Fumes from a generator can be harmful for you, your family and your pets. Generators should be kept 20 feet away from your home, downwind from open doors, windows and vents.  

When weather allows, open windows and doors to allow air-flow. Allowing fresh air in will help ventilate your home and give pollutants a chance to air out. 

Check your air filters regularly. Make sure your filters are clean and you’re using the correct size for your unit. Replace them as needed so air-flow is not restricted.  

Before using your fireplace, make sure to inspect the chimney and flue. If used improperly, hazardous air may be brought into your home instead of out.  Make sure your chimney and flue are clean and in good condition before building any fires for the season. Clean your chimney regularly after enjoying the fire.   



Many items and environmental factors in our homes can contribute to poor air quality, especially during the winter when windows and doors are closed more often. These include:  

  • Fuel-burning appliances and fireplaces  
  • Tobacco products 
  • Excess moisture 
  • Central heating systems  
  • Household cleaning products 
  • Outdoor air pollution  


There are some immediate effects you may feel when indoor air quality is poor, including:  

  • Irritation of the eyes, nose and throat 
  • Headaches 
  • Dizziness  
  • Fatigue 

Indoor pollutants may also worsen respiratory diseases such as asthma. If you feel any of the above symptoms, it’s recommended you attempt to identify the source and make sure there is an adequate supply of outdoor air—try opening windows or doors for a little while.