A new smoky skies bulletin was issued once again for the Okanagan and Similkameen due to the many ongoing wildfires.
The air advisory is warning residents to be aware of the conditions over the next 24 to 48 hours.
Those conditions can change quickly over short distances due to the volatile nature of wildfires.
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.
During smoky conditions the provincial government and health authorities ask to follow your common sense and the following advice:
• 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.
Central and South Okanagan are currently listed at a high air quality risk advisories of 7, according to the B.C. government’s air quality index, with decreased forecast to moderate risk overnight and tomorrow.
Kamloops and the North Okanagan are listed at a high risk of 8, decreasing to a high of 7 overnight and then to moderate on Thursday.
The worst air quality in the province is currently Castlegar, which is listed at a high of 9.
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