The Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy, in collaboration with the Interior and Northern Health Authorities has amended the area covered by the Smoky Skies Bulletin that was last updated on Thursday August 10 due to changing smoke conditions.
Areas now covered by this Bulletin include: 100 Mile, Arrow Lakes, BC Peace River (North), BC Peace River (South), Boundary, Bulkley Valley and The Lakes, Bulkley Valley and The Lakes Northwest (including Smithers), Bulkley Valley and The Lakes Southwest (including Burns Lake), Cariboo North, Cariboo South, Chilcotin, East Columbia, East Kootenay, Elk Valley, Fort Nelson, Fraser Canyon, Kinbasket, Kootenay Lake, Nicola, North Coast – Coastal Sections, North Coast – Inland Sections, North Columbia, North Thompson, Okanagan, Prince George, Shuswap, Similkameen, Slocan Lake, South Thompson, West Columbia, West Kootenay, Williston, Yellowhead, and Yoho Park – Kootenay Park.
Smoke concentrations will vary widely as winds, fire behaviour and temperatures change. Avoid strenuous outdoor activities. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, contact your health care provider: difficulty in breathing, chest pain or discomfort, and sudden onset of cough or irritation of airways. Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, and lung or heart disease. This Bulletin will remain in effect until further notice.
A Smoky Skies Bulletin is intended to respond to the rapidly changing nature of wildfire smoke, in which smoke concentrations can vary significantly over short distances and periods of time that may not be well-characterised by the existing air quality monitoring network or responded to in a timely manner by Wildfire Smoke Advisories.
Full Interior Health Smokey Skies Bulletin (August 10, 2017): http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/environment/air-land-water/air/advisories/2017-08-10_smoky_skies_bulletin_amend.pdf
Full Ministry of Environment Statement: http://weather.gc.ca/warnings/report_e.html?bc28
Tips to Reduce your Personal Health Risk
- People with heart or lung conditions may be more sensitive to the effects of smoke and should watch for any change in symptoms that may be due to smoke exposure. If any symptoms are noted, affected individuals should take steps to reduce their exposure to smoke and if necessary see their physician. People with symptoms should go to their health care provider, walk in clinic or emergency department depending on severity of symptoms.
- Use common sense regarding outdoor physical activity – if your breathing becomes difficult or uncomfortable, stop or reduce the activity.
- Stay cool and drink plenty of fluids.
- Smoke levels may be lower indoors, however levels of smoke particles will still be increased. If you stay indoors, be aware of your symptoms.
- Consider visiting a location like a shopping mall with cooler filtered air. Keep in mind that staying indoors may help you stay cool and provide some relief from the smoke, however many air conditioning systems do not filter the air or improve indoor air quality.
- Reduce indoor pollution sources such as smoking or burning other materials.
- You may be able to reduce your exposure to smoke by moving to cleaner air. Conditions can vary dramatically by area and elevation. • Residents with asthma or other chronic illness should activate their asthma or personal care plan.
- Pay attention to local air quality reports, air quality may be poor even though smoke may not be visible.
- Running a commercially available HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter can further improve indoor air quality near the device.
- Maintaining good overall health is a good way to prevent health effects resulting from short-term exposure to air pollution.
For general information about smoke and your health, contact HealthLink BC available toll free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 8-1-1, or via the web at: http://www.healthlinkbc. ca/kbaltindex.asp.
Real-time air quality information in B.C. is available at http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/ environment/air-land-water