Wildfire season is upon us and Interior Health is reminding B.C. residents of ways to stay protected from the potential wildfire smoke pollution.
Here are seven ways to prepare for wildfire smoke events:
1. Ensure cleaner indoor air: Clean indoor air is important when seeking relief from smoky skies. Purchase a portable air cleaner that uses high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration to remove smoke from indoor air. Studies show indoor portable air cleaners reduce small particle concentrations by 40 to 80 per cent.
2. Know where to find cleaner air: Many large public spaces may provide cooler and cleaner air. Know where those places are in your community. They may be libraries, community centres, shopping malls, etc.
3. Be aware of people who need extra care: People with chronic conditions such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes, as well as pregnant women, infants, and young children are most affected by wildfire 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.
4. Have a smoke contingency plan: 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.
5. Have a plan for rescue medications: If you use rescue medications, such as asthma inhalers, make sure you have a supply at home and always carry them with you during wildfire season. Have a plan to follow if your rescue medications cannot bring your condition under control.
6. Review resources from WorkSafe BC: If you work outdoors, review WorkSafe BC resources and be aware of your occupational health and safety policies and procedures for wildfire smoke events.
7. Check the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) and follow the advice: The AQHI is a scale designed to help you understand what the air quality around you means to your health. The AQHI also provides important advice on how to protect your health during air quality levels associated with low, moderate, high and very high health risks.
Smoky air makes it harder for your lungs to get oxygen into your blood, it can also lead to the risk of infections such as pneumonia in older people and ear infections in younger children.
Another thing to remember is if you or your family members have a chronic disease, to make a management plan with your doctor during smoky periods.
For a full list of ways on how to prepare for wildfire smoke pollution and reduce risks to your health visit The B.C. Centre for Disease Control.