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People In California Are Getting Creative As Thick Smoke From The Wildfires Chokes Entire Regions

From Uber drivers selling respirators out of their cars to DIY air purifiers, people are doing what they can to deal with unhealthy air.

Posted on November 16, 2018, at 8:19 p.m. ET

Two giant wildfires are scorching California right now, killing dozens and forcing entire cities to evacuate. But people not in the direct path of flames aren’t free from danger: Smoke from the fires has made the air hazardous to breathe in many areas, particularly in Northern California.

In San Francisco, the air was so smoky that health experts warned everyone to stay indoors all day Friday. Schools were closed, as were open-air cable cars, and museums opened their doors for free to provide refuge. With the Bay Area Air Quality Management District warning that the conditions could last until at least Tuesday, authorities have recommended people wear masks if they go outside, although many stores were sold out.

But fear not, people have found creative ways to deal with the situation, from entrepreneurial side gigs and DIY air filters to fundraisers and donation campaigns.

Let us review:

One Uber driver in San Francisco was selling masks out of their car for $5 each.

My Uber driver in SF was selling face masks. $5 a pop.

An organization called Mask Oakland used Venmo to crowdsource $15,000 in donations for respirators for people who couldn’t afford them.

$5 = 4 masks. Demand grows FAST. Please donate, prevent turning folks away. Venmo: @MaskOakland We now face an $8750 demand/day Donations avg. $3000/day. Community groups seek 5000+ masks a day + we can deliver 2000 directly to vulnerable individuals. #HelpUsBreathe #CampFire https://t.co/QhLK5HUQIP

So far, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the group has handed out 4,000 masks and ordered 9,000 more with the donations. The company 3M, which manufactures respirators, also donated 380,000 of them to the Red Cross.

One woman wrote on Instagram that she started crying when she found out the air purifier company Molekule had donated some its wares to her daughter’s school.

Instagram: @nestandsea

Molekule also wrote on Instagram that it had donated purifiers to a Veterans Affairs clinic in Chico, California, and to a church that served as an evacuation center in the same city in response to the deadly Camp fire. Neither Molekule nor the mother immediately responded to request for comment.

ABC 7 reported that people were also buying desert goggles at sporting goods stores to protect their eyes.

Instagram: @abc7newsbayarea

One girl wanted to make sure her My Little Pony dolls were safe too.

Instagram: @miriamross

Alameda police also reminded the public to keep pets indoors, especially birds, which are very susceptible to bad air.

Instagram: @alamedapolice

There were also tons of before-and-after pics that showed how bad the smoke was.

Instagram: @grettygirl20

Though most of the pictures came from populous urban areas, people in more rural parts of the Bay Area also documented the smoke’s effects.

Instagram: @melodyjoys

People also posted pictures of their DIY air purifiers.

@_benng My DIY wet shirt + fan air purifier is protecting me, I have no worries other than schooling you on contouring https://t.co/gz22fxD0pY

Or instructions for making them with a box fan and a filter (swipe right).

Instagram: @artmouse

Maybe you have this stuff lying around the house?

fan + MERV 13 filter + tape = DIY air purifier

According to Wirecutter, the DIY business isn’t half bad!

Recently we've heard reports of people making a DIY air purifier by taping an HVAC furnace filter to a box fan, so we tried it and tested it. Spoiler: Not bad! But it’s not as strong as any of the actual air purifiers we tested. https://t.co/OXqG6fPXcU https://t.co/RKwOwGFWrg

There were also other options, like GTFO in search of clearer skies.

7 places to escape the Bay Area's bad air quality this weekend https://t.co/cTxx6ItEft via @abc7newsbayarea

And many people did, like this family: “When the air quality is hazardous, we move to higher ground.”

Instagram: @maygsters

How are you dealing with the bad air quality? Tell us in the comments section!

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