When smoke from a wildfire, such as a forest fire or grassland fire, which are currently being fought across parts of Alberta and B.C., it can cause health problems for the people that live there.
The biggest health risk from smoke comes from the small particles within it that can get into your eyes, respiratory system and bloodstream. This can cause burning eyes, a runny nose, coughing, trouble breathing or illnesses like bronchitis.
These particles can make conditions such as heart and lung problems more pronounced. Smoke can also be harmful to our furry friends, so keeping pets inside as much as possible and ensuring they have lots of water is recommended when confronted with a lot of smoke in the area.
If you are outside it is recommended that you don’t do any heavy activities or exercise in the smoke. It is also important to drink lots of water and stay hydrated, this will keep your nose and mouth moist which makes it easier to breathe. When there is a lot of haze in the air, don’t let your children play outside for a long time.
Alberta Health Services have provided a list of options to help keep your health risk low from smoke and your indoor air in your home as clean as possible:
• Keep windows and doors closed.
• Close fresh air intakes from furnaces, fireplaces, or stoves.
• Turn on your air conditioning if you have it, and set it to recirculate. Keep it running to help filter the air and keep your family cool. (Just remember that some air conditioning systems don’t filter the air or improve indoor air quality.)
• If you have room air cleaners with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, turn them on. Don’t use air cleaners that may produce ozone. For portable air cleaners, follow all the manufacturer’s instructions for changing the filter, where to place the device, and the size of room it’s meant to be used in.
• Use humidifiers, which might help remove some of the smoke. The humid air can also help keep your nose and mouth moist.
• Don’t use wood stoves, gas stoves, or candles because they make the indoor air quality worse. If you can, prepare foods that you don’t have to cook. Cooking (especially frying and broiling) can affect the air quality in your home.
• Don’t use spray air fresheners or electric fragrance dispensers because they can affect air quality.
• Don’t vacuum because it stirs up particles that are already inside your home.
• Don’t let anyone smoke, vape, or use e-cigarettes in your home.