Smoky skies choking the fun out of summer

Smoky skies choking the fun out of summer throughout the Similkameen.

Smoke is over shadowing the

last few weeks of summer in the

Similkameen and many other parts

of the province.

Starting Saturday afternoon

some residents were choked out

from favourite warm weather activities

like walking, biking or even

sitting in their backyards, as strong

north west winds pushed smoked

through the valley.

The smoke is mainly coming

from large wildfires in Washington.

Most notably, the aggressive Stick

Pin fire has grown to in excess of

190-square kilometres. The fire is

less than four-and-a-half kilometres

from the border.

BC wildfire crews have been

sent to help out the province’s

Washington counterparts to help

contain the fire.

The smoke haze that will last

until the wind direction changes

has stopped tourists and locals from

seeing valley views.

Into Tuesday all that could

be seen of area mountains were

outlines. The famous ‘K’ on K

Mountain could not be seen at all.

Environment Canada and the

B.C. Ministry of Environment

have issued air quality advisories

for South Okanagan, including

the Similkameen, the Central

Okanagan and the North Okanagan.

Sue Pollock, medical health officer

for Interior Health said at this

time of year smoky skies are to

be expected but there are things

residents can do to help themselves

breathe better.

Some people may experience

symptoms as insignificant as runny

noses, scratchy throats and mild

headaches while others may experience

more serious symptoms

including shortness of breath, chest

pain, wheezing.

Closing and locking all windows

and doors and running an air

conditioner with clean filters can

help reduce the smoke particles in

the air.

“Although for most there will

be no health issues but there are

several groups at high risk from the

effects of wildfire smoke.”

People with chronic heart and

lung conditions including Chronic

Obstructive Pulmonary Disease,

asthma and congestive heart failure

are cautioned to reduce activities

outdoors when the skies are hazy

with smoke.

Younger children and older

adults are also sometimes at risk.

“Other groups that are higher

risk people are very active people

who work outdoors or are outdoors

for significant amounts of time.

They are exposed to the smoke the

air the longest. Obviously when

you are indoors there is less exposure,”

she said.

Those experiencing more severe

symptoms should immediately go

to the hospital and if there is any

difficulty in breathing should call

911.

Pollock recommend everyone

participate in cool activities.

“Usually when we’re seeing

smoke in the air, we’re also experiencing

warm temperatures. Head

to the mall so you can be in the air

conditioning. Go to the movies. Go

do something indoors where you

can get a reprieve from the heat.”

For information about air quality

throughout the province visit www.

bcairquality.ca