If you’ve been outside for any length of time in the city today you’ll understand why a special air quality statement has been issued for Calgary.
Environment and Climate Change Canada issued the statement this morning with the Air Quality risk at 10+, the highest risk level the agency has.
Anyone who had to head outside this morning will absolutely back up that ranking.
iPhone no filter. Holy smoke. #yyc #ABFires #calgary pic.twitter.com/0L22RvpXg5
— Randy Risling (@RandyRisling) May 16, 2023
ECCC warns that wildfire smoke can cause damage even at low concentrations. It says everyone can take action to reduce their exposure to wildfire smoke.
People with lung diseases like asthma or heart disease, older adults, children, pregnant people, and people who work outdoors are at higher risk of experiencing health effects caused by wildfire smoke.
ECCC says you should stop or reduce your activity level if breathing becomes uncomfortable or you or someone in your care feel unwell. Contact your healthcare provider or local health authority if you develop severe symptoms or need advice.
Much like with everything else, people respond differently to the smoke. Mild irritation and discomfort are common and usually, that gets better when the smoke clears.
It has a number of different suggestions for things to do to help get you through the smokey conditions.
To help your body deal with the bad air they recommend you drink lots of water. If you have an HVAC system in your home, use the highest-rated MERV filter for your system, ideally rated 13 or higher, and set the fan to recirculate air constantly. You can also use a portable High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) air cleaner.
ECCC says you should keep your doors and windows closed if the temperature in your home is comfortable. Take a break from the smoke at a location in your community where you can find clean, cool air.
While you’re inside you should reduce sources of indoor air pollution. If you can, avoid smoking or vaping indoors, burning incense and candles, frying foods, using wood stoves, and vacuuming. Dust on indoor surfaces can be removed by wiping and wet mopping during a pollution episode.
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Obviously, not everyone can just stay inside all day. If you must spend time outdoors you should use a well-fitted respirator-type mask like an N95 that does not allow air to pass through small openings between the mask and face. This can help reduce your exposure to the fine particles in smoke. These fine particles generally pose the greatest risk to health.
But you should know, respirators do not reduce exposure to the gases in wildfire smoke. It is important to listen to your body and reduce or stop activities if you are experiencing symptoms.
Be sure to check on people in your care and those around you who may be more susceptible to smoke.
Air quality conditions are expected to improve throughout the day, although they are expected to stay in the moderate to high-risk zone for the rest of the day. Things are expected to improve on Wednesday as we drop back into the low-risk zone.
But for now, the conditions are really rough in the city.
The smoke from the over 100 wildfire burning in the province has hit Calgary. It looks like a eerie movie outside. #wildfire #abfire #wildfires pic.twitter.com/VID5q4EuM0
— GametimeWithEmerald (@EmeraldsTTV) May 16, 2023