Smoke wafting out of the valley

Central Okanagan residents may find themselves breathing a little easier today.

Central Okanagan residents may find themselves breathing a little easier today.

Smoke from B.C.’s fires has drifted out of the valley and the Air Quality Health Index rating for the region has dropped to a four overnight, meaning that there’s only a moderate health risk.

The air quality monitoring station in the South Okanagan, which is situated near the US border, is reporting the same.

For people with health issues, the elderly or young children that means considering reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outdoors, if discomfort arises.

For the general population it means there’s little need to modify usual outdoor activities unless symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation present themselves.

While the rating has improved for the time being it may change.

The air quality health index rating in the North Okanagan has been listed as a seven, however, meaning that there is a high health risk for those who are vulnerable and even the general population should consider rescheduling strenuous outdoor activity.

The Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with the Interior Health Authority, had already forewarned of the conditions at hand, issuing a Smoky Skies Advisory for the Cariboo, Thompson, Shuswap, Okanagan, Similkameen, Fraser Canyon and Nicola regions on the weekend.

That advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk.

Stay inside if you have breathing difficulties. Find an indoor place that’s cool and ventilated. Using an air conditioner that cools and filters air may help. If you open the windows you may let in more polluted air. If your home isn’t air-conditioned, consider going to a public place (library, shopping mall, recreation centre) that is air-conditioned.

Weather is expected to keep fires stoked this week, so 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.

Please continue to monitor alerts and forecasts issued by Environment Canada.

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