Interior Health says members of the public should protect themselves as local skies fill with smoke from wildfires. (File photo)

Interior Health says members of the public should protect themselves as local skies fill with smoke from wildfires. (File photo)

UPDATED: Smoky skies expected to continue throughout weekend

B.C. Interior Health gives tips on how to protect your lungs

The Regions of B.C., including the North Okanagan, are being impacted by wildfire smoke. This is likely to continue over the next 24-48 hours.

During a wildfire, smoke conditions can change quickly over short distances and can vary considerably hour-by-hour. Though wildfire smoke is a natural part of the environment, it is important to be mindful that exposure to smoke may affect your health.

People with pre-existing health conditions, the elderly, infants, children and sensitive individuals are more likely to experience health effects from smoke exposure.

During smoky conditions, the government urges people to follow common sense:

  • 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.

Related: Tips to protect yourself under smoky skies

Related: Wildfire smoke settling into the Southern Interior

Related: Storm not an impact on Snowy Mountain fire near Keremeos

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