The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has offered up some tips for making it through another year of wildfire smoke brought on by devastating fires.
With 2020 coating BC and western Canada in some of the worst air quality in the world, the BCCDC says people should be prepared for another year of prolonged smoke.
“There have been catastrophic wildfires in western North America every year from 2016 to 2020,” said Sarah Henderson, scientific director of Environmental Health Services at BCCDC.
“There is no reason to believe 2021 will be any different. Let’s start getting ready for the smoke now rather than waiting until it arrives.”
Wildfire smoke made up of fine particulate matter can carry a great risk to human health, according to the BCCDC. Growing evidence shows that it could have long-lasting impacts to health.
While it is mostly impossible to predict the timing and density of smoke, the BCCDC says there are measures people can take to prepare.
People with respiratory conditions like asthma should stock up on supplies of rescue medications.
Portable air cleaners with HEPA air filters can also be bought to reduce particulate matter indoors.
During smokey times, windows should be kept closed, while recirculating air through a forced-air system and using an air cleaner.
However, the BCCDC says that for most people, overheating is more dangerous than breathing smoke, so people shouldn’t allow themselves to get too hot.
While outdoors, a well-fitted respirator, three-layer cloth, or disposable mask should be used. The most important thing is a good fit around the mouth and nose, which will allow inhaled air to pass through the material, but not around it.
More information on wildfire smoke and its health impacts is available online at: bccdc.ca/wildfiresmoke.