How to Protect Your Voice From Wildfire Smoke & Air Pollution

 November 14, 2018   |    Songbird Studios   |    Articles, Tips & Tricks, Vocal Health

With the increasing intensity of wildfires throughout California and on the West Coast, poor air quality and smoke inhalation has become unavoidable for many of us. While the immediate threat to life and property is most serious (please see our links below for ways you can help those directly affected), smoke inhalation and air quality issues can also be dangerous – both to your health and your voice. Here’s how you can protect yourself:

San Francisco Air Quality Index Map

San Francisco Air Quality Index during California Wildfires 2018

Limit Your Exposure

An Air Quality Advisory has been issued for the entire San Francisco Bay Area Region due to the Butte County Fire (Camp Fire). The current air quality in San Francisco is RED/UNHEALTHY, but may fluctuate due to high winds affecting smoke from the fire. Residents are recommended to avoid strenuous activity and stay indoors when possible, most especially for sensitive groups, including adults with lung/heart disease, older adults, children or teens. What does that mean?

  • When going to and from locations, use an N95 mask properly fitted to your face.
  • Track Air Quality Conditions to stay up to date on the AQI where you live.

N95 Masks CA Wildfires

Optimize Indoor Air Quality

  • Keep doors and windows closed and well sealed.
  • Run your air conditioner on recycled air, and make sure your filters are new and/or clean.
  • Get an an air purifier if you can (check out this thorough review and recommendations from Wirecutter).
  • Diffuse essential oils to help promote respiratory health (our favorites are oils such as peppermint, lavender and eucalyptus, and there are a variety of wonderful essential oil blends on the market today – ones to note are from Young Living, doTerra and Vitruvi). Aroma Siez, better to apply topically with a carrier oil such as almond, aids with opening up breathing pathways, and promotes relaxation of the respiratory tract).

Clean & Fuel Your Body

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink TONS of water. Shoot for 8 ounces every hour that you’re awake. Get a reusable water bottle that you can refill throughout the day, ensuring you hit your goal of 100-120 ounces daily!Songbird Studios Water Bottle
  • Sinus Rinse: It’s gross, but effective. Helps to clear out your nasal cavity – we like the NeilMed Neti Pot!
  • Eat Well and Detoxify: Look for anti-inflammatory foods like garlic, turmeric, ginger, leafy green veggies, nuts, etc. and foods high in anti-oxidants like goji berries, blueberries, dark chocolate, pecans, kidney beans, etc.

Maintain Your Voice:

  • Straw Straw Straw! Promote healing and reinforce healthy vocal fold closure by vocalizing through a thin straw. Think a minute or two of singing (slides or your favorite scales will work – even a song if you’d like!) multiple times a day.
  • Semi-Occluded Exercises: No straw available? That’s ok – singing on a ‘Z’, ‘V’ or a lip trill will give you a similar benefit to that of the straw.
  • Not sure what we mean? Book an intro lesson with us and we’ll give you the full run down!

How You Can Help:

California Strong GraphicOur hearts go out to all those affected by the wildfires and we are wishing all Californians safety and health. We encourage anyone who can offer support in the form of monetary donations to visit the following links:

  • American Red Cross Help people affected by the California wildfires by visiting, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word CAWILDFIRES to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from these disasters. You can also visit for more info.
  • The CCF Wildfire Relief Fund supports immediate recovery efforts for major California wildfires, as well as long-term preparedness efforts.
  • Google – Scroll down and hit “YES, DONATE!”
  • California Fire Foundation is a statewide nonprofit organization that is working to get fast funds to everyone effected through its SAVE program, where frontline firefighters are given prepaid Mastercards to distribute to victims who often didn’t have time to pack everything they needed before they were forced to evacuate. With it, they can get necessities like food, a change of clothes, or pay for somewhere to stay.