The Bardsley family is preparing for a potentially smoky summer by purchasing air purifiers such as this machine from Levoit. (Jennifer Bardsley)

The Bardsley family is preparing for a potentially smoky summer by purchasing air purifiers such as this machine from Levoit. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Do you have an air purifier? Prepare for a smoky summer now

This mom spent the family’s vacation budget on air purifiers, HEPA filters and tower fans.

I’m a Girl Scout leader, so of course I believe in the importance of being prepared. Unfortunately, I wasn’t prepared for two summers in a row of wildfires. Let’s travel back in the “I Brake for Moms” time machine and revisit last August:

“Help! I’m trapped in a hot house with two kids and a poodle. We can’t open any of the windows because it smells like smoke outside. My eyes burn, my lungs ache and I get winded climbing up stairs. Is this Snohomish County or Mexico City? Looking outside my window at the hazy sun, it’s hard to tell. According to the thermostat, it’s 85 degrees inside my house. I unplug the box fan because all it does is make noise. I’d turn on the air conditioner, but we don’t have one. Instead, I drink glasses of water and try not to move.”

This summer, I’m determined to be prepared. The DIY air filter I made last year with an inexpensive box fan taped to a furnace filter made a small difference, but I want my family to breathe the best air possible, especially since some of us suffer from respiratory issues.

I grew up with a HEPA filter running in my bedroom at all times because of allergies. Those 1980s filters did the job, but they were noisy. These days, HEPA filters are much quieter. Last winter I bought a $167 Levoit air purifier with a HEPA filter for my room and liked it so much that I purchased one for my daughter’s bedroom as well.

The great thing about the Levoit is that you can set it on automatic. It cranks to a higher setting if it senses poor air quality. Normally the Levoit runs on the blue setting. But if we burn something on the stove downstairs in the kitchen, the air purifiers in the upstairs bedrooms ramp up to the green or red settings; that’s how sensitive they are.

They also sense when my daughter uses a particular brand of shampoo. There’s something in the fragrance that makes the air purifiers change from the blue setting to the green one.

I have high hopes for the Levoits, but all they do is clean air. In the hotbox that is my house, I also need to run fans. That’s a lot of white noise driving us bonkers.

A solution to the noise problem is the Dyson Pure Cool fan. It’s a combination air purifier and tower fan. Unfortunately, it costs almost twice as much money as the Levoit. I paid $300 for a Dyson Pure Cool fan when it was a Today’s Special Value on QVC, and I’ve seen it for a similar price at Costco. It’s quiet, sleek and efficient.

Guess where my family is going on vacation this summer? Nowhere. I blew our vacation budget on air purifiers so we could stay at home.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at

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