If you've looked outdoors in the last few days you've noticed the "haze". The calling card of Summer in Montana. There is a silver lining to this bout of forest fire smoke, however.

You can already see the disappointment and disdain in the eyes of the newly transplanted out-of-staters. The forest fire smoke is thick, not only in Missoula but nearly statewide. Trust us, newcomers, we're bummed as well. The only difference is, we're pretty much used to it, and that is kind of sad when you think about it. I can't remember a Summer in Montana without forest fires, but at least all this smoke isn't from the Big Sky state. They are rolling in from Canada.

Our neighbors to the north in Canada are already battling a bad fire outside Alberta at the Long Lake Fire. Now, just because it's not a Montana fire, doesn't mean our state firefighters aren't already on the front line. Along with the Alberta Crew, the local Lolo Hotshots are side by side with them.

We're already looking at temps tipping into the high 80s this weekend, which means it's only a matter of time before we are next, and the smoke is definitely a serious thing, especially for people with breathing and health problems. Here is a quick rundown on how you can help yourself stay safe and healthy this fire season:

Keep your windows closed

Look, I know it's still smoldering hot out and a nice breeze through your window is great at night. Many of us don't have central A.C., so throwing a fan in the window in the evening is a great cheat code. This is a horrible idea. You are literally blowing smoke and ash right into your home, and getting it back out is pretty much impossible.

Filter Your Air

If you do end up pulling the bonehead move that I did, and you need to get the air out of your home, do it as quickly as possible. Use a portable air cleaner or high-efficiency filter to remove fine particles from the air.

Avoid Exercise and Outdoor Exposure

I know, man. It's still Summer and we've only got so many days of nice weather, but it might not be worth it. Missoula is epic for our hiking and running trials, golf courses, and exercise events. Working up your heart rate and inhaling these smoke particles in large quantities is a no-no. If you absolutely have to exercise, get inside the gym. Many places will let you purchase a day pass.

Consider Wearing A Mask (Specifically N95 Respirator)

I know, I know. Some of you are freaking out right now. We've all been through the mask apocalypse these past few years, but if you are susceptible to respiratory infections, have underlying health issues, or are elderly, these could prevent major health issues. The silver lining is nobody will look at you like a weirdo, because you know, *gestures broadly at the last few years.

Once again, use your common sense. Don't take unnecessary risks. Stay safe, Montana.

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