Letter: Better access needed to public buildings during smoky days

Letter: Better access needed to public buildings during smoky days

Wildfire smoke is making us and our families sick. What are we going to do about it?

Wildfire smoke is making us and our families sick. What are we going to do about it?

We all know the air quality in Vernon has been bad lately. But how bad is it? It’s very bad — and it’s making us sick.

Interior Health’s bulletin “Air Shelters During Wildfires” recommends when air quality is poor that everyone get to a clean air shelter, a building with a good air filtration system (a high-efficiency particulate air filtration system) to reduce air pollution from wildfire smoke. For people who do not have access to a clean air shelter, the bulletin notes: “depending on the air-tightness of the room, smoke may still make its way in over time and be equal or worse quality than the outdoor air.”

For more than seven days, the air quality in Vernon was rated in the “very high” category between 200 PM 2.5 and 400 PM 2.5. According to Interior Health, anything above 50 PM 2.5 is considered to carry a health risk.

If Vernon’s air quality is rated in the “high risk” category for more than a few days, Vernon residents require increased public access to buildings to serve as clean air shelters.

Increased public access means that Vernon residents would have access to the library every day; extended hours for public facilities such as the recreation centre and ice rinks; and, public access to school gymnasiums during certain times.

I want to know what is being done by the Regional District, the City of Vernon, Interior Health and our local leadership to provide access to clean air and clean air shelters. I encourage everyone reading this article to contact their local government official and ask the same.

Kelsey Robertson