As wildfires continue to rage in British Columbia, smoke blanketed the province and drifted eastward over Alberta, prompting Environment Canada to issue air quality advisories in both provinces.
Locally, the advisory came into effect Wednesday morning.
Approximately 564 wildfires are burning across B.C., displacing about 3,000 people and forcing nearly 18,000 more to be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice. About 25 new wildfires were sparked between Monday morning and midday Tuesday. On Saturday alone, 143 new wildfires ignited. Lightning has sparked most of this year’s blazes, but 404 are believed to have been caused by humans.
During a wildfire, smoke conditions can change quickly over short distances and can vary considerably hour-by-hour. Air quality is expected to be intermittently poor for the remainder of the week.
Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk.
People with lung diseases, such as asthma and COPD, can be particularly sensitive to air pollution. They will generally experience more serious health effects at lower levels. Pollution can aggravate their diseases, leading to increased medication use, doctor and emergency room visits, and hospital visits.
Stay inside if you have breathing difficulties. Find an indoor place that’s cool and ventilated. Using an air conditioner that cools and filters air may help. If you open the windows you may let in more polluted air. If your home isn’t air-conditioned, consider going to a public place (library, shopping mall, recreation centre) that is air-conditioned.
Visit www.airhealth.ca for information on how to reduce your health risk and your personal contribution to pollution levels, as well as for current and forecast AQHI values.