What to Do When Air Quality is Unhealthy

A screengrab of the AirNow dashboard which shows current air quality
AirNow.gov lets you type in your zip code and get localized air quality information.

This blog was posted on June 27, 2023. For the latest info on air quality, see our What to Do When Air Quality is Unhealthy webpage. 

Due to wildfire smoke from Canada, we’ve had several days recently with air quality alerts. Here are a few ways to check air quality in your area and learn what to do:

  • Visit AirNow.gov. AirNow lets you type in your zip code and you get a look at current air quality and any alerts in place (see image at right). If you scroll down the page, there are instructions for what actions to take given the air quality, like staying indoors or choosing less strenuous outdoor activities.
  • Check out your weather app. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources monitors air quality and works with the National Weather Service to issue an alert when needed. When we have an air quality alert, they can show up in the weather app on your phone.
  • Learn how to help protect your workers. If you have staff who work outdoors, check out this resource from California about how you can support your team’s health.
  • Decide if you should cancel an outdoor event. You might want to modify your event schedule based on the Air Quality Index. In the Very Unhealthy (201-300) and Hazardous (301-500) categories, it is recommended that all activities be moved indoors or rescheduled to another day. For days in the Unhealthy (151-200) range consider things like length of the event, how intense any activity is, and who is participating. The CDC has Air Quality and Outdoor Activity Guidance for Schools
  • Know the different types of alerts. There are six types of air quality alerts. This fact sheet outlines the recommendations for each one.
  • Sign up for air quality notices. Want to get a text or email with air quality notices? Sign up on the DNR’s website.

This content is free for use with credit to Public Health Madison & Dane County .

Was this page helpful to you?