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Wildfires drive back smoky skies across B.C.

Air quality advisory for many regions, including Okanagan
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Wildfire smoke continues to fill the air, as seen over Okanagan Lake from Vernon Friday, Aug. 25. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Smoke has settled back into the Okanagan and many regions of B.C.

An air quality advisory has been sparked again from wildfire smoke.

“Localized impacts continue in the Southern and Central Interior,” the smoky skies bulletin reads. “Easterly winds continue to transport smoke from the Southern Interior towards the Lower Mainland and the Island, causing hazy conditions with some regions more heavily impacted.”

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.”

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.

READ MORE: ‘Pulling together in terrifying times’: Trudeau visits wildfire impacted Okanagan

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.

READ MORE: 130-hectare planned aerial ignition to take place at McDougall Creek wildfire in West Kelowna


@VernonNews
newsroom@vernonmorningstar.com

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Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

Vernon has always been my home, and I've been working at The Morning Star since 2004.
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