Smoky skies warning still in effect

Smoke levels are expected to get serious

The air around the Southern Interior is heavy with smoke, and health officials are issuing a warning to those who may find themselves at risk of health complications.

The Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with the Interior Health Authority, has issued a Smoky Skies Advisory for the Cariboo, Thompson, Shuswap, Okanagan, Similkameen, Fraser Canyon and Nicola regions because of forest fire smoke that is covering the area.

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.

  • In most fire seasons, there are occasions when smoke from forest fires is carried into our region.
  • Under these conditions, smoke concentrations may vary dramatically over short periods and over small distances.
  • Those members of the public who are sensitive to the effects of smoke should monitor their symptoms and, if necessary, take steps to reduce their exposure to smoke.
  • During the fire season, a heavy bluish-white haze, possibly accompanied by the smell of smoke, are clear indications that smoke concentrations are higher than usual. The concentrations and air quality health index measured at an air station many kilometres away may not be a good indication of local smoke conditions.

This advisory will remain in effect until further notice and has been in effect since Saturday.

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.

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