Smoke from the Philpott Road wildfire has helped as the Central Okanagan to the B.C. Environment ministry’s smokey sky advisory. —Image credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

Okanagan added to B.C. smokey sky advisory

People with breathing problems advised to stay indoors.

The provincial Ministry of Environment’s smokey sky advisory now includes the Okanagan.

The updated special air quality statement was issued Monday morning and now includes the entire Okanagan, as well as other areas of the Interior such as 100 Mile House, the Boundary Country, the Cariboo, the North and South Thompson and Prince George.

According to the ministry, the expanded advisory was issued in collaboration with both the Interior and Northern Health Authorities.

“Avoid strenuous outdoor activities. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, contact your health care provider: difficulty in breathing, chest pain or discomfort, and sudden onset of cough or irritation of airways. Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, and lung or heart disease,” says the advisory.

People with lung diseases, such as asthma and COPD, can be particularly sensitive to air pollution, says the ministry and they will generally experience more serious health effects at lower levels,so they are advised to stay indoors as much as possible.

Pollution, says the ministry, can aggravate their diseases, leading to increased medication use, doctor and emergency room visits, and hospital visits.

People with breathing difficulties are advised to find an indoor place that’s cool and ventilated. Using an air conditioner that cools and filters air may help.

“If your home isn’t air-conditioned, consider going to a public place (library, shopping mall, recreation centre) that is air-conditioned.”

The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

For more information on current air quality, see: www.bcairquality.ca.

Visit www.airhealth.ca for information on how to reduce your health risk and your personal contribution to pollution levels, as well as for current and forecast AQHI values.