Interior Health warns B.C. residents to take precautions due to wildfire smoke

Megan Trudeau | August 18, 2018 in Health

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Wildfires across the province have resulted in smoky skies and poor air quality for many communities.

Some northern communities have even been waking up to darkness because of all the heavy smoke that has drifted in.

Penticton had some eerie haze roll through as well, giving the city a post apocalyptic feel.

Interior Health has put out a warning to B.C. residents encouraging them to take care of their health amidst the poor air quality we are experiencing.

People are urged to limit exposure to smoke by staying indoors or going to where air quality is better such as at higher elevations. People should also avoid strenuous activity, especially outdoor activity. 

The Kelowna Apple Triathlon was cancelled for today due to the poor air quality. 

Environment Canada has issued a special air quality statement with the air quality index currently at 10+ , the highest level. It is forecasted to stay at that level for all of Saturday.

Conditions can change quickly, but smoky skies are expected to stick around most of the province for the next few days.

In B.C. we use the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) to make recommendations for modifying outdoor activity and/or avoiding smoke. This index takes into consideration levels of particulate matter, NO2, SO2, and other gases that are known to negatively impact lung capacity, heart function, and blood flow to muscles and brain tissue, says Interior Health.

Smoke affects everyone differently, but those most at risk include individuals with underlying medical conditions such as asthma, COPD, heart disease, or diabetes, and infants, the elderly and pregnant women.

The best way to protect your health when skies are smoky is to reduce your exposure and seek cleaner air. When the AQHI is moderate or higher (equal to and/or above 4), Interior Health recommends that individuals consider reducing or avoiding strenuous activities, and follow the recommendations provided on the BC Air Quality website.

If you are experiencing clinical symptoms of any kind, contact your health care provider or local walk-in clinic. If your symptoms are severe, seek emergency medical attention.

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