UPDATE: The air quality advisory issued for the South Peace has been removed by Environment Canada and the B.C Ministry of Environment.

CHETWYND, B.C. – The Hasler Flats wildfire is affecting the air quality in the South Peace for the next 24 to 48 hours, according to Environment Canada.

The air quality advisory was issued for the South Peace River region on Thursday due to the wildfires smoke in the air.

According to Environment Canada, smoke conditions can change quickly over a short distance and vary hour-by-hour. It adds that wildfire smoke is a natural part of the environment but emphasizes the importance of being mindful of smoke exposure and not risking one’s health.

A Smoky Skies Bulletin from the province and multiple health authorities, including Northern Health, recommends what to do during these smoking conditions.

Follow your common sense:

  • Stop or reduce activity levels if breathing becomes uncomfortable or one feels unwell.
  • Stay cool and drink plenty of fluids.
  • If one has asthma or other chronic illness, carry any rescue (fast-acting) medications at all times and use a personal care plan designed by a family physician.
  • Ensure that children and others who cannot care for themselves follow the same advice.

“Monitor your symptoms:”

  • Each person may respond to smoke differently. Mild irritation and discomfort are common and usually disappear when the smoke clears.
  • Exposure to wildfire smoke and COVID-19 can both result in respiratory symptoms such as dry cough, sore throat or difficulty breathing. Use the COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to help determine whether further assessment or testing is needed.
  • Call HealthLink BC at 811 if medical care may be needed.
  • If experiencing difficulty breathing, chest pain, discomfort or a severe cough, contact a health care provider, walk-in clinic or emergency department.
  • If a medical emergency occurs, call 911.

“Tips to reduce your smoke exposure:”

  • Smoke levels may be lower indoors but still elevated. Stay aware of symptoms even indoors.
  • Running a commercially available high-efficiency particulate air filter can improve indoor air quality.
  • It may help to change the filter in heating/cooling systems in homes.
  • Reduce indoor air pollution such as smoking, incense and frying foods.
  • If using air conditioning, keep the windows up and the ventilation set to recirculate in the car.
  • If sensitive to smoke, consider moving to another location with cleaner air and be aware that conditions can change rapidly.
  • Maintaining good overall health is a good way to prevent health effects from short-term exposure to air pollution.

Currently, Fort St. John’s air quality index is at low risk, and though it may marginally increase, it will still be in the low-risk range.

For more information, visit the Air advisories tab on the government of BC’s website.

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Shailynn Foster

Shailynn Foster is a news reporter for energeticcity.ca. Shailynn has been writing since she was 7 years old, but only recently started her journey as a journalist. Shailynn was born and raised in Fort St. John and she watches way too much YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ during the week while playing DND on the weekends.