Many Vancouver Island residents woke up on Thursday to smoky skies as a result of significant wildfires burning across British Columbia.
As a result of the lingering wildfire smoke, Environment Canada has issued a smoky skies bulletin along with air quality advisories cautioning residents about possible health risks created by the current conditions.
The special advisories were posted just after noon on Thursday and canvass the majority of Vancouver Island, excluding North Vancouver Island.
Environment Canada suggests that areas on Vancouver Island are likely going to be impacted by wildfire smoke over the next 24-48 hours.
Most of Vancouver Island currently falls under the ‘Low’ category on the Air Quality Health Index scale when it comes to health risks, however, Greater Victoria has moved up to a Level 4, which falls under the ‘Moderate’ category.
Under the Moderate category, experts suggest that the general population doesn’t need to modify their usual outdoor activities unless they experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation. It is suggested for anyone that is considered part of the At-Risk population to consider reducing or rescheduling their strenuous activities outdoors.
Environment Canada says conditions are currently considered to be stable, however, advises that could vary hour-by-hour.
“Wildfire smoke is a natural part of our environment but it is important to be mindful that exposure to smoke may affect your health,” reads a statement from the weather agency. “People with pre-existing health conditions, respiratory infections such as COVID-19, older adults, pregnant women and infants, children, and sensitive individuals are more likely to experience health effects from smoke exposure.”
Environment Canada advises residents should close all windows in order to keep the smoke out, however, also recommends making sure the house doesn’t get to warm as exposure to too much heat can also lead to illness.
“People with lung diseases, such as asthma and COPD, can be particularly sensitive to air pollution,” adds Environment Canada. “They will generally experience more serious health effects at lower levels. Pollution can aggravate their diseases, leading to increased medication use, doctor and emergency room visits, and hospital visits.”
Residents that have difficulties breathing are being advised to stay inside by finding an indoor place that’s cool and ventilated.
For more information on current air quality, Vancouver Islanders can visit: www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/air.