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How to stay healthy during air quality warnings

Health officials share some tips for dealing with the effects of wildfire smoke.

If you woke up this morning in Metro Vancouver with a sore throat or a cough, you’re not alone.

The region remains below an air quality recommendation thanks to high levels of particulate matter stemming from wildfires near Manning Park, in Hope and in Washington state.

Exposure to smoky air is a particular concern for people with underlying conditions such as lung and heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and/or diabetes, as well as those who are pregnant or have respiratory infections. Infants, children and older adults can also be more affected by the air, as can outside workers and those who are not housed.

Fraser Health has some health tips for wildfire protection and general air quality advice.

How to protect your health from forest fire smoke

  • Know your risk. If you’re at increased risk, try staying in air-conditioned rooms or facilities with cooler, filtered air, like an arena or public library.

  • Use common sense about outdoor physical activity – if breathing becomes difficult or uncomfortable, stop or reduce the activity.

  • Reduce indoor sources of pollution by not smoking or burning materials.

  • Use commercially available high-efficiency particulate filters (HEPA) that can improve the indoor air quality around the unit. If you don’t have access to these, go to common areas with cool air, such as a B. Libraries, community centers or shopping malls.

  • Activate your asthma or personal care plan if you have asthma or other chronic diseases. If you do not have an asthma or personal care plan for air quality events, speak to your care provider.

  • Know where to find information. The impact of wildfire smoke on air quality can change rapidly. Learn how to keep up to date with conditions in your area. Smartphone apps like Canada’s Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) can send alerts when air quality begins to deteriorate.

  • Stay cool and drink plenty of fluids.

  • Pay attention to local air quality reports. Air quality can be poor, although smoke may not be visible.

  • Reduce outdoor sources of pollution by using public transport, carpooling and minimizing the use of diesel-powered equipment.

  • Start preparing for next season now. The best way to protect yourself from smoke is to plan well before the smoke arrives.

– Source: Metro Vancouver and Fraser Health

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