SMOKY SKIES BULLETIN CONTINUES IN SOUTHERN INTERIOR – Special air quality statement in effect for Southeast BC

Special air quality statement CONTINUES for: Arrow Lakes, Slocan Lake, Boundary, Kootenay Lake, West & East Kootenay, Elk Valley, Columbias – Issued at 12:30 PM July 17 – UPDATED: 6AM JULY 19, 2017 – ENVIRONMENT CANADA SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT.

 Smoke is causing poor air quality and reducing visibility. Smoke is expected or occurring.

The Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with the Interior Health Authority, has issued a Smoky Skies Bulletin for the following areas: Kinbasket, North Columbia, West Columbia, East Columbia, Yoho Park – Kootenay Park, Elk Valley, East Kootenay, Arrow Lake – Slocan Lake, Kootenay Lake, West Kootenay, Boundary, Okanagan, Similkameen, Nicola, South Thompson, North Thompson, 100 Mile, Cariboo (North and South), and Chilcotin.

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.

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.

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.

For more information on current air quality, see: www.bcairquality.ca.

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.

Please continue to monitor alerts and forecasts issued by Environment Canada.

Issued by Environment Canada and the B.C. Ministry of Environment

NEW! BC Air Quality

NEW! Fire Smoke Canada

Air quality and health can be impacted by smoky skies

Residents in communities across Interior Health affected by fires burning and resulting smoky skies should be aware that smoke conditions and local air quality can change due to the unpredictable nature of fires.

Some individuals may be more sensitive to the effects of smoke from forest fires, such as those with heart or lung conditions. These individuals 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 or local walk-in clinic.

People with severe symptoms should present themselves to the nearest Emergency Department.

Reducing Exposure to Smoke

There are some actions you can take to reduce the health effects of smoke in the air:

  • 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.
  • Commercially available HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters can further reduce poor 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.

__IHA Communications Team <IHACommunicationsTeam@interiorhealth.ca>

If the public wants to know the Air Quality Health Index for their region, log on to www.bcairquality.ca or call (250) 952-2039.

For fire information, visit www.bcwildfire.ca

Wildfire update for southeast BC – Boundary, Kootenays, Columbia, Rockies