Smoke from wildfires sinks into the valley

Smoky skies warning issued

Smoke from B.C. fires has once again wafted into the valley and is causing poor air quality and reducing visibility.

The Air Quality Health Index rating for the Central Okanagan is currently a seven out of 10 and conditions are expected to improve in the day ahead.

Already in the North Okanagan the rating is a seven out of 10, which means the province has deemed the health risk to be high for those who are at-risk as well as the general population, when engaging in strenuous outdoor activities.

“Consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outdoors if you experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation,” reads the provincial release,

The Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with the Interior Health Authority, has issued a Smoky Skies Bulletin for the following areas: Kinbasket, North Columbia, West Columbia, East Columbia, Okanagan, Shuswap, Similkameen, Nicola, South Thompson, North Thompson, 100 Mile, Cariboo (North and South), and Chilcotin. Smoke concentrations will vary widely as winds, fire behaviour and temperatures change. This bulletin will remain in effect until further notice.

In the South Okanagan the air quality is rated as three out of 100 (low risk) and is forecasted to move to a four out of 10 (moderate risk) on Monday and into Tuesday morning.

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.

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.