Tuesday, May 21, 2024

BC Wildfire smoke drifting over to Vancouver Island today


Notice a haze in the sky today? You’re probably not imagining it.

The smoke from BC’s Wildfires has swept down to the southwestern area of our province and could drift over to Vancouver Island today.

An air quality advisory has already been issued for East Vancouver Island, the Southern Gulf Islands and Greater Victoria. High concentrations of fine particulate matter are expected to persist there for several days.

Exposure to increased smoke concentrations is particularly of concern for infants, the elderly and those who have underlying medical conditions such as heart or lung disease.

Those at risk are being advised to avoid strenuous activities and prolonged exposure to smoke. And if you experience symptoms like difficulty in breathing, chest pain or discomfort, and sudden onset of cough or irritation of airways to seek medical attention.

The image brings back memories of 2015 when smokey skies prompted numerous photo submissions.

Smoke haze beach
Photo by Celeste Rochelle

We’ll provide more updates on today’s smoky skies as they’re available. You can also follow the progress of the smoke online at by clicking here.


Smoke can affect each person differently, based on their health, age, and exposure. Make sure to follow the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s guidelines.

  • 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 exposure. If you notice any symptoms, take steps to reduce your exposure to smoke and if necessary see a physician. People with symptoms should go to their health care provider, walk-in clinic or emergency department depending on the severity of symptoms.
  • Residents with asthma, COPD or other chronic illness should activate their asthma, respiratory or personal care plan.
  • 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.
  • Smoke levels may be lower indoors, however levels of smoke particles will still be increased. If you stay indoors, be aware of your symptoms.
  • Commercially available HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters can further reduce poor indoor air quality near the device.
  • Reduce indoor pollution sources such as smoking or burning other materials.
  • Consider visiting a location like a shopping mall with cooler filtered air. Keep in mind that staying indoors may help you stay cool and provide some relief from the smoke, however, many air conditioning systems do not filter the air or improve indoor air quality.
  • You may be able to reduce your exposure to smoke by moving to cleaner air. Conditions can vary dramatically by area and elevation.
  • Pay attention to local air quality reports; air quality may be poor even though smoke may not be visible.
  • Maintaining good overall health is a good way to prevent health effects resulting from short-term exposure to air pollution.
Alistair Ogden
Former staff writer at Victoria Buzz.

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