The haze hanging in the sky has finally cleared up the last couple of days in most of Greater Vancouver, but there are still over 500 forest fires raging across the province. In the event the air quality takes another turn for the worse, here are some tips on how on how to breathe easier during wildfire season.
Take it easy
The Air Quality Health Index is a measurement of air quality, with a rating of one to 10, seven and above considered high risk. In such an event, health experts advise people possessing existing respiratory conditions, as well as seniors and young children, to avoid spending too much time outdoors and refrain from strenuous activity. Although other demographics aren’t likely to be affected, it may still cause irritation so dialing back the intensity of exercise or taking a rain check is probably a smart move.
While staying inside the house is a good idea, smoke can still get inside. Air purifiers can help — if owners purchase a unit rated for the proper room size and ensure the built-in filter is clean — otherwise make a trip to a movie theatre, shopping mall, library or any large public facility that utilizes a commercial-grade air filtration setup.
Inspect vehicle cabin filter
Similarly, most cars have on-board cabin filters designed to clean the air of dust, pollen smoke and other particles before it enters the HVAC system. If it’s been some time since the last service, consult the manual on how to remove and inspect the filter, or bring the vehicle into a shop. Also, when driving around, keep the windows rolled up and choose the re-circulation option anytime the air quality is poor.
Keep up to date
Check the local news and B.C. Wildfire Service’s interactive map daily for the current conditions and plan activities accordingly.
Just like humans, animals are sensitive to smoke. Take the same precautions for pets, keep them hydrated, bathed and seek a veterinarian’s advice if signs of breathing problems or other unusual symptoms arise.