Much of B.C. continues to be socked in by smoke, including the Okanagan.
A smoky skies bulletin continues for the region Tuesday, Sept. 13, from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
Air quality in the North and Central Okanagan is six, or moderate, but expected to drop to five (improved but still moderate risk) Wednesday.
Wildfire smoke is expected across the southern portion of the province with slow clearing along the southwest coast. In the northeast, the Battleship Mountain fire will continue to produce smoke that will move into the Peace River region shifting as the winds change.
During a wildfire, smoke conditions can change quickly over short distances and can vary considerably hour-by-hour.
“Wildfire smoke is a natural part of our environment but it is important to be mindful that exposure to smoke may affect your health,” the ministry bulletin reads.
People with pre-existing health conditions, respiratory infections such as COVID-19, older adults, pregnant women and infants, children, and sensitive individuals are more likely to experience health effects from smoke exposure.
During smoky conditions follow your common sense:
• Stop or reduce your activity level if breathing becomes uncomfortable or you feel unwell.
• Stay cool and drink plenty of fluids.
• If you have asthma or other chronic illness, carry any rescue (fast-acting) medications with you at all times and activate your personal care plan that has been designed with
your family physician.
• Make sure that children and others who cannot care for themselves follow the same advice.
Monitor your symptoms:
• People respond differently to smoke. Mild irritation and discomfort are common, and usually disappear when the smoke clears.
• Exposure to wildfire smoke and the virus that causes COVID-19 can both result in respiratory symptoms such as a dry cough, sore throat, or difficulty breathing. Use the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to help determine whether you need further assessment or testing for COVID-19.
• If you are unsure whether you need medical care, call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1.
• If you are experiencing difficulty in breathing, chest pain or discomfort, or a severe cough, contact your health care provider, walk-in clinic, or emergency department. If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.
Tips to reduce your smoke exposure:
• Smoke levels may be lower indoors but will still be elevated, so stay aware of your symptoms even when you are indoors.
• Running a commercially available HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter can improve indoor air quality in the room where the device is located.
• If you have a forced air heating/cooling system in your home, it may help to change the filter and set the fan to run continuously.
• Reduce indoor air pollution sources such as smoking, burning incense, and frying foods.
• If travelling in a car with air conditioning, keep the windows up and the ventilation set to recirculate.
• If you are very sensitive to smoke, consider moving to another location with cleaner air, but be aware that conditions can change rapidly.
• Maintaining good overall health is a good way to prevent health effects resulting from short-term exposure to air pollution.
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