The Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with the Interior Health Authority, has issued a Smoky Skies Advisory for Cariboo, Thompson, Shuswap, Okanagan, Similkameen, Fraser Canyon and Nicola regions because of forest fire smoke that is covering the area.
Smoke concentrations will vary widely as winds, fire behaviour and temperatures change.
Avoid strenuous outdoor activities.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, contact your health care provider: difficulty in breathing, chest pain or discomfort, and sudden onset of cough or irritation of airways.Â Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, and lung or heart disease.
This advisory will remain in effect until further notice.
What is a Smoky Skies Advisory?
· A Smoky Skies Advisory is a new type of public advisory being used by the Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with the Interior Health Authority, to improve communication on wildfire smoke.
· It will be issued when smoke concentrations in an area have, or may, reach levels that are of concern for human health.
· Such decisions are based on satellite information, smoke transport models, photographs of visual air quality, first-hand observations from the area, in addition to concentrations of fine particulate matter recorded at local air quality stations.
This differs from the Wildfire Smoke Advisories issued by the Ministry of Environment, which are based primarily on concentrations of fine particulate matter measured over a 24-hour period at fixed monitoring stations in Kamloops.
· A Smoky Skies Advisory is intended to respond to the rapidly changing nature of wildfire smoke, in which smoke concentrations can vary significantly over short smoke, in which smoke concentrations can vary significantly over short distances and periods of time that may not be well-characterised by the existing air quality monitoring network or responded to in a timely manner by Wildfire Smoke Advisories.
· The key messages of a Smoky Skies Advisory are:
a) In most fire seasons, there are occasions when smoke from forest fires is carried into our region.
b) Under these conditions, smoke concentrations may vary dramatically over short periods and over small distances.
c) Those members of the public who are sensitive to the effects of smoke should monitor their symptoms and, if necessary, take steps to reduce their exposure to smoke.
d) During the fire season, a heavy bluish-white haze, possibly accompanied by the smell of smoke, are clear indications that smoke concentrations are higher than usual. The concentrations and air quality health index measured at an air station many kilometres away may not be a good indication of local smoke conditions.