Another smoky-skies advisory for region

People with heart or lung conditions may be more sensitive to the effects of smoke

By Kamloops This Week

Heavy smoke from massive wildfires in Washington state has led to the third smoky-skies alert in the Kamloops region this summer.

The Ministry of Environment and the Interior Health Authority, have issued the alert for entire North and South Thompson, Nicola and Shuswap areas due to the forest-fire smoke that is affecting the region.

Since Saturday night, southerly winds have been widely spreading northwards heavy plumes of smoke from the U.S. wildfires, resulting in high concentrations of fine particulates and poor air quality. While this episode is expected to persist until a major shift in wind patterns and weather conditions, smoke concentrations will vary widely as winds, fire behaviour and temperatures change.

A smoky-skies advisory means people should avoid strenuous outdoor activities. Those experiencing any of the following symptoms should contact their 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.

Smoky-skies advisories are issued when smoke concentrations in an area have, or may, reach levels that are of concern for human health. Such decisions are based on satellite information, smoke transport models, photographs of visual air quality, first-hand observations from the area, in addition to concentrations of fine particulate matter recorded at local air quality stations.

Smoky-skies advisories differ from the wildfire smoke advisories issued by the Ministry of Environment, which are based primarily on concentrations of fine particulate matter measured over a 24-hour period at fixed monitoring stations in Kamloops.

Tips to reduce your personal health risk

• People with heart or lung conditions may be more sensitive to the effects of smoke and should watch for any change in symptoms that may be due to smoke exposure. If any symptoms are noted, affected individuals should take steps to reduce their exposure to smoke and if necessary see their physician. People with symptoms should go to their health care provider, walk in clinic or emergency department depending on severity of symptoms.

• Use common sense regarding outdoor physical activity. If your breathing becomes difficult or uncomfortable, stop or reduce the activity.

• Stay cool and drink plenty of fluids.

How’s the air out there?

Real-time air quality information in Kamloops, and other communities in B.C., is available right here.

For more information

The Interior Health Authority’s website right here contains information and other resources related to forest fire smoke exposure and air quality, as well as food-safety tips when the power is out and ensuring your drinking water is safe