With Environment Canada issuing a Special Air Quality Statement for our region due to smoke from wildfires across the country, CK Public Health reminds residents that wildfire smoke can be harmful to everyone’s health, even at low concentrations.
Additionally, people with lung disease (such as asthma) or heart disease, older adults, children, pregnant people, and people who work outdoors are at higher risk of experiencing health effects caused by wildfire smoke.
However, there are actions that you can take to protect your health and reduce your exposure to the smoke:
- Monitor your health. Stop or reduce activity levels and contact your health care provider if you or someone in your care experiences shortness of breath, wheezing (including asthma attacks), severe cough, dizziness or chest pains. Stay inside if you are feeling unwell and experiencing symptoms.
- Keep your indoor air clean. Keep your doors and windows closed if the temperature in your home is comfortable. Use an air purifier with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter in a room where you spend a lot of time. Avoid air purifiers that produce ozone. Check the filter and change it if required. For more information visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/publications/healthy-living/using-portable-air-cleaner-wildfire-smoke.html.
- Take a break from the smoke, if possible, by temporarily relocating or finding a location in your community with clean, cool air such as a public library, shopping mall or community centre.
- If you must spend time outdoors, consider masking up! A well-fitted respirator type mask (such as a NIOSH certified N95 or equivalent respirator) that does not allow air to pass through small openings between the mask and face, can help reduce your exposure to the fine particles in smoke. These fine particles generally pose the greatest risk to health.Please note: Respirators do not reduce exposure to the gases in wildfire smoke. It is important to listen to your body and reduce or stop activities if you are experiencing symptoms!
- Check up on people in your care and those around you who may be more susceptible to smoke.
- Pay attention to information and direction from your local authorities. As always, make sure you’re following CK Public Health on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for quick and easy access to announcements.
- Be aware of your mental health. It is normal to feel anxious or isolated during a smoke event. If you experience any feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression, contact your mental health care provider for advice or visit https://www.wellnesstogether.ca/en-CA.
Visit www.airhealth.ca for information on how to further reduce your health risk and your personal contribution to pollution levels, as well as for current and forecast AQHI values.