An air quality advisory had been issued for several parts of B.C. including Vanderhoof due to wildfire smoke coming from Alberta.
The smoky skies bulletin was issued on May 25 and was lifted on May 29 due to reduced smoke concentrations from the wildfire in the sky.
Gail Roth, Air Quality Meteorologist for the ministry of environment and climate change strategy in a May 27 interview with the Vanderhoof Omineca Express said a bulletin such as this is issued when there is a probability of wildfire smoke impacting an area.
“Wildfire smoke is extremely variable over time and can change from hour to hour so it is very difficult to forecast accurately,” she explained.
In terms of the forecast, Roth said, there are a number of wildfires burning in northern Alberta which have caused smoke going down to Kitimat in B.C. as well.
“It has moved across the northern half of B.C. over the weekend. We have pretty calm, stable conditions in the region right now. So its not dispersing as well. Right now the longer term forecast we are hoping things will improve over the next day or two. But we have to wait and see and that’s why the Bulletin is still in effect today (May 27),” Roth said.
The smoky skies bulletin is issued on the basis of region. Regions in B.C. affected by the Bulletin were — Cariboo (North), Muncho Lake Park, Watson Lake, Fort Nelson, Williston, B.C. North Peace River, McGregor, Prince George, Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake, Bulkley Valley and Lakes District (northwest) and Bulkley Valley and Lakes District (southeast).
Decisions about air quality advisories are being taken by looking at smoke prediction models, satellite imagery and by keeping contact with BC Wildfire and firefighters at the scene, Roth said.
Meanwhile, during smoky conditions here are some tips to follow:
• Stop or reduce your activity level if breathing becomes difficult or you feel unwell.
• Stay cool and drink plenty of fluids.
• Carry any rescue medications with you at all times.
• Make sure that children and others who cannot care for themselves follow the same advice.
• Monitor your symptoms
• Different people have different responses to smoke. Mild irritation and discomfort are common, and usually disappear when the smoke clears.
• People with asthma or other chronic illness should activate the personal care plans they have designed with their family physicians.
• If you are unsure whether you need medical care, call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1.
• If you are experiencing difficulty in breathing, chest pain or discomfort, or a severe cough, contact your health care provider, walk-in clinic, or emergency department.
• If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.
Tips to reduce your exposure
• Smoke levels may be lower indoors but will still be elevated, so stay aware of your symptoms even when you are indoors.
• Running a commercially available HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter can improve indoor air quality in the room where the device is located.
• If you have a forced air heating/cooling system in your home, it may help to change the filter and set the fan to run continuously.
• Reduce indoor air pollution sources such as smoking, burning incense, and frying foods.
• Consider going to a library, community center, or shopping mall with cooler filtered air to get some relief from the smoke.
• If travelling in a car with air conditioning, keep the windows up and the ventilation set to recirculate.
• If you are very sensitive to smoke, consider moving to another location with cleaner air, but be aware that conditions can change rapidly.
• Maintaining good overall health is a good way to prevent health effects resulting from short-term exposure to air pollution.