Where There Is Wildfire There Could Be Smoke



Here are the best ways to be aware of the hazards posed by wildfire smoke

The weather is warming up in British Columbia (BC), and while that's wonderful it's also important to be aware that dry, hot conditions can cause wildfires. Seasonal wildfires in BC are normal, but the smoke they bring can pose certain risks to your health, even if you're far away from the source of the flames.

Wildfire smoke can cause mild symptoms in some, such as sore throat, runny nose, wheezy breathing and headaches. In some individuals, including people with asthma, Elders, or the very young, smoke can cause symptoms such as shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain or dizziness, which needs rapid medical assessment or intervention.

The best way to reduce the harmful effects of smoke is ​to reduce your exposure to smoke itself. Methods of doing this include:

  • Close your windows to prevent the smoke from entering your home
  • Get a portable high efficiency particulate (HEPA) air cleaner filter
  • If going outdoors and it's quite smoky, use a N95 respirator
  • Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated
  • Visit public spaces that have a ventilation system such as libraries, friendship centers or other community spaces

For guidance on setting up clean air shelters, avoiding wildfire smoke effects and other air quality concerns:

Air purifier units and filters may be available for community members who are more vulnerable to wildfire smoke and unable to travel to a clean air shelter. Health leadership in your community should contact your Environmental Health Officer (EHO) to request an air purifier.

Fnha.ca/wildfire is a central hub for information on emergency management and evacuation supports for communities in BC affected by wildfire and wildfire smoke.

For more information about the health risks of wildfire smoke, please check Wildfire Smoke at the BC Centre for Disease Control.

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