Wildfire smoke: Where to find cleaner air, resources and more
Wildfire smoke rises over Watch Lake in B.C.'s Cariboo Regional District on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017. (Karen Brodie Smith, provided)
Part-way through the 2019 wildfire season, a B.C. public health authority is advising residents about how to protect against poor air quality.
Smoke pollution can be a major problem even hundreds of kilometres from the scene of a larger fire, and the best way to stay healthy is to reduce exposure.
Interior Health published seven tips for how to prepare for the reduced air quality often a problem during the season.
Keep your air clean indoors
Health officials suggest purchasing an air cleaner to remove smoke from your home or business. Interior Health says anyone seeking relief from the smoke should choose a portable cleaner that uses high-efficiency particulate air filtration.
Know where to go for cleaner air
Those who aren't able or willing to buy a filtration system can get a break from smoky skies in large public spaces including libraries. Malls, community centres and other big buildings will also be easier to breathe inside.
Keep an eye on your loved ones
The health authority suggests checking in with people with chronic conditions including asthma, heart disease and diabetes.
Pregnant women, infants and young children are also among the most affected by smoke.
"If you or your loved ones are at increased risk, work with your health-care provider to create a management plan for smoky periods," Interior Health said in its statement Monday.
Have a stash of medications
Anyone who uses medications such as asthma inhalers is advised to ensure they have a supply at home. They should also carry an inhaler with them when not at home, and have a plan to follow if the medication isn't enough.
Have a backup plan
Planning a soccer game? Backyard barbecue? Hike uphill? Better make a backup plan just in case, Interior Health says.
"If you are planning an outdoor event or activity, especially with those most at risk, ensure that you have an alternate plan in case the smoke levels are unacceptable."
Review resources in advance
WorkSafeBC has resources online that offer advice for those who work outdoors.
Employees and employers should be aware of their occupational health and safety policies, as well as procedures for when the smoke gets bad.
Check the air quality
Online Air Quality Health Index tools allow those at risk to check the conditions before stepping outside.
The scale is designed to help the public understand what the quality is like and what it might mean for their health. It also provides advice on how to stay safe when the reading is high.