Air Quality
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​Residents in communities affected by wildfires and resulting smoky skies should be aware that smoke conditions and local air quality can change due to the unpredictable nature of wildfires.

Some individuals may be more sensitive to the effects of smoke, such infants and young children, the elderly, and those with an underlying medical condition such as asthma, COPD, heart and lung conditions, and diabetes.

Pay attention to the air quality in your area and monitor your symptoms regularly:

  • Air Quality Health Index (AQHI): current and predicted, and health messages for the at risk and general populationcurrent and predicted, and health messages for the at risk and general population
  • BC Air Quality: current Air Quality Advisories, levels of measured parameters, and smoke predictions 

Symptoms of Smoke Exposure

Under smoky conditions, you may experience irritated nose and throat. If exposure persists you may experience:

  • Difficultly with breathing
  • Chest pain and discomfort
  • Coughing

If you have these symptoms, take steps to reduce exposure to smoke and if necessary see your physician or local walk-in clinic. People with severe symptoms should present themselves to the nearest Emergency Department. If you do not have the appropriate supports available, you may want to consider temporarily relocating to an area with cleaner air.

Reducing Exposure to Smoke

Take the following actions to reduce the health effects of smoke in the air:

  • Use common sense regarding outdoor activity – if your breathing becomes difficult or uncomfortable, stop or reduce the activity.
  • Stay cool and drink plenty of fluids
  • Ensure that your air conditioning unit is on recirculate.
  • Consider visiting a location like a shopping mall with cooler filtered air.
  • Reduce indoor pollution sources such as smoking or burning other materials.
  • Move to cleaner air. Conditions vary dramatically by area and elevation.
  • Commercially available HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters can further reduce poor indoor air quality.

Learn more about using face masks during wildfire smoke events.

For general information about smoke and your health, contact HealthLink BC at 8-1-1.

Latest news & resources

Wildfire smoke forecasting systems, what to expect over the next 48 hours.

 

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