How to stay safe amidst the smoky wildfire season and poor air quality


As more than 200 wildfires continue to burn in British Columbia, experts advise residents to start preparing for wildfire smoke and poor air quality.

Air quality warning is in place Most of the inland southern part of BC, And the risk of fire in the province is very high.

These warnings were issued after a record heat wave raised the risk of wildfires Far beyond normal For most of western Canada.

Naomi Zimmerman, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at BC University, said residents should not wait until air quality warnings to start preparing for the smoky sky.

“When we have a wildfire, we can see the concentration of particulate matter… in the range of 50 to hundreds of micrograms per cubic meter, and usually we may see, for example, no To 10 micrograms in Vancouver,” she said. “This is a considerable increase.”

Zimmerman said that poor air quality and smoky environments are particularly worrying for vulnerable groups.

This includes pregnant women, the elderly, young children, and people who suffer from asthma or other respiratory diseases.

She said: “This is unlikely to be seen as potentially serious health effects.” “More importantly, continuous exposure to these smog incidents will make you more susceptible to these diseases. [like asthma].”

How to deal with wildfire smoke and harsh air conditions

Zimmerman has some suggestions on how to deal with poor air quality at home:

  • Keep windows as close as possible during wildfires.
  • Limit your time outdoors and avoid exercising if you have air quality recommendations.
  • If you must go out, wear a mask.
  • Avoid smoking or lighting candles indoors.
  • When cooking, turn on the exhaust fan.
  • If you are driving in a smoky environment, turn on the recirculation mode of the car’s air conditioner and make sure your filter is up to date.
  • Buy an air purifier or filter for your house.

Zimmerman says that when buying an air purifier for your home, you should look for a HEPA-rated air purifier.

She pointed out that the level of air purifiers depends on the size of the room to which they are applied.

“Maybe your open-plan living room needs a bigger one and the bedroom needs a smaller one,” she said.

Zimmerman also pointed out that the purifier usually indicates when the filter in it needs to be replaced. Keep the replacement filter at hand.

If you can’t buy an air purifier, Zimmerman recommends you Try to build your own Use box fans and furnace filters.

An expert said that N95 masks are best for providing protection against wildfire smoke outdoors, as long as they are installed correctly. (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News)

As for masks, Zimmerman said that N95 masks are most suitable for outdoor activities in smoky conditions, as long as they are worn correctly.

She said that even ordinary cloth masks can provide a certain degree of protection.

“When you think about pandemics and wildfire smoke, the same considerations apply-fit is important,” she said. “If you breathe with a mask, the amount of pure smoke you will breathe will be reduced.”

Zimmerman is studying smoke penetration in buildings and said that retrofitting air filtration systems in buildings will be “a future consideration.”

How to protect the safety of pets and plants

Although smoky environments certainly affect vulnerable people and those who must be outdoors, they can also affect pets and trees.

BC SPCA stated that although smoke tends to gather in higher places in the air, thereby protecting most animals, there are still concerns about certain breeds of dogs.

BC SPCA spokesperson Lorie Chortyk said: “An example includes short-headed dogs-these dogs have shorter faces.” This includes Pugs, bulldogs and Shih Tzu.

“Brachycephalic dogs are already at risk of respiratory complications, so anything that might affect their breathing could be a serious problem.”

Chotic said that if you have to walk your pet in a smoky environment, it’s best to go when the sun is not high. This means walking your pet in the early morning or evening.

“Animals should always have fresh drinking water and plenty of shade, especially if they tend to spend most of their time outside,” she said.

If the pet begins to exhibit abnormal behavior, SPCA recommends calling the veterinarian.

Urban forests and trees, Drying out Joe McLeod, a Vancouver urban dendriologist and director of urban forestry, said that due to the heat wave in British Columbia, air pollutants such as carbon dioxide are inhaled.

He said that the impact of continuous heat waves on trees is greater than the particulate matter in wildfire smoke.

However, residents should still try to water dry trees and plants to ensure that they continue to survive in the coming months, he said.

“Obviously, we do encourage residents not to light fires in the parks and not to smoke in the parks,” he said. “Just to avoid a fire in any of our park assets.”



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