Emergency Info - Forest Fires
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Wildfire Smoke Advisories

View all Air Quality Advisories throughout BC

SMOKY SKIES BULLETIN AMENDED REGIONS REMOVED: BC PEACE RIVER (NORTH), BC PEACE RIVER (SOUTH), BULKLEY VALLEY AND THE LAKES SOUTHWEST (INCLUDING BURNS LAKE), MCGREGOR, PRINCE GEORGE, WILLISTON

September 8, 2017 - The Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy, in collaboration with the Interior and Northern Health Authorities, has amended the area covered by the Smoky Skies Bulletin that was last updated on Thursday, September 7 due to changing smoke conditions. Continue reading the complete bulletin.

SMOKY SKIES BULLETIN AMENDED
REGIONS REMOVED: REGIONS REMOVED: ARROW LAKES - SLOCAN LAKE, BC PEACE RIVER (NORTH), BC PEACE RIVER (SOUTH), BULKLEY VALLEY AND THE LAKES NORTHWEST (INCLUDING SMITHERS), BULKLEY VALLEY AND THE LAKES SOUTHWEST (INCLUDING BURNS LAKE), CENTRAL NORTHERN BC (BETWEEN DEASE LAKE AND FORT NELSON), EAST COLUMBIA, EAST KOOTENAY, ELK VALLEY, FORT NELSON, KOOTENAY LAKE, MCGREGOR, MUNCHO LAKE, NORTH COAST - COASTAL SECTIONS, NORTH COAST - INLAND SECTIONS, WATSON LAKE, WEST COLUMBIA, WEST KOOTENAY, WILLISTON, YOHO PARK - KOOTENAY PARK

August 14, 2017 - The Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy, in collaboration with the Interior and Northern Health Authorities has amended the area covered by the Smoky Skies Bulletin that was last updated on Friday August 11 due to changing smoke conditions. Continue reading the complete bulletin.

SMOKY SKIES BULLETIN AMENDED
REGIONS ADDED: CENTRAL NORTHERN BC BETWEEN DEASE LAKE AND FORT NELSON, MCGREGOR, MUNCHO LAKE, WATSON LAKE

August 11, 2017 - The Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy, in collaboration with the Interior and Northern Health Authorities has amended the area covered by the Smoky Skies Bulletin that was last updated on Thursday August 10 due to changing smoke conditions.. Continue reading the complete bulletin.

SMOKY SKIES BULLETIN AMENDED
REGIONS ADDED: BC PEACE RIVER (NORTH), BC PEACE RIVER (SOUTH), FORT NELSON

August 10, 2017 - The Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy, in collaboration with the Interior and Northern Health Authorities has amended the area covered by the Smoky Skies Bulletin that was last updated on n that was last updated on Thursday August 10 due to changing smoke conditions. Continue reading the complete bulletin.

Forest Fires and Your Health

Select topic below for more information:

Air Quality - reducing your exposure in smoky conditions

Wildfire smoke is a mixture of very small inhalable particles and gasses. The amount and the makeup of smoke can change from fire to fire and as the smoke gets older. 

The variability in the smoke can lead to a variety of health effects that range from nose, throat and eye irritation to more serious symptoms like difficulty breathing and worsening of heart and lung conditions like COPD or asthma. 

Those particularly at risk are unborn children, children, the elderly, and those with chronic illness. Effects can be made worse when combined with high temperatures.

What you and your family can do to reduce your risk:

  • Limit your exposure to wildfire smoke.
    • Stay indoors and keep the air clean.
    • Reduce the amount of time spent outdoors when air quality is poor.
    • Avoid rigorous outdoor activities if your breathing becomes difficult or uncomfortable.
    • When driving in a vehicle, keep windows closed with air conditioning set to recirculate.
    • N95 respirators are only effective for those who are familiar with their use and proper fit; simple dust masks are unlikely to provide any reduction in exposure to fine particles or gaseous pollutants.
  • Visit a clean air shelter or a location that has a large volume of air that is air conditioned and filters the air (such as shopping malls, swimming pools, public libraries, etc.).
  • People with asthma or other chronic illness should activate their asthma or personal care plans.
  • Some people may consider leaving the smoke filled area all together, however, conditions can vary dramatically by area and elevation.
  • Listen to your body - Visit www.healthlinkbc.ca, call 8-1-1 (non-emergency), see your doctor, or call 9-1-1 (emergency) if you’re experiencing symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, chest pain or discomfort, and sudden onset of cough or irritation of airways.
  • Be aware – visit bcairquality.ca for current air quality information (air quality may be poor even though smoke may not be visible).

Smoky conditions often happen during hot weather events, which means that it may also be important to stay cool:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Spend time in the coolest room in the home (e.g. basement).
  • Use an air conditioner or spend time at a location equipped with air conditioning and air filtration.
  • Take a cool bath or shower.

Maintaining good overall health is a good way to prevent health effects resulting from short-term exposure to air pollution.

Northern Health supports the Ministry of Environment (MoE) with air quality advisories and bulletins when certain air pollutants become a concern. MoE issues Smoky Skies Bulletins when smoke can be expected in a local airshed. 

Unlike air quality advisories which are based on air concentrations measured at monitors, these Smoky Skies Bulletins are issued by a meteorologist who uses a number of different tools to determine that smoke is likely to enter a specified region. These bulletins can provide sooner warning to people that their health may be affected during the smoke event and may also be in affect longer than a typical advisory due to the unpredictable nature of wildfire smoke.

Northern Health, in conjunction with other agencies, will be monitoring smoke levels in communities close to fire activity. If situations arise where evacuation or relocation of high-risk individuals is required, NH will work to provide information to communities and partner agencies, and will assist with risk assessment and coordination of medical services.

Water Quality – ensuring your drinking water is safe for use

Water quality can be compromised by a variety of emergencies, including natural disasters like forest fire or flooding. Environmental Health Officers routinely inspect, sample and assess Community Water Systems in Northern BC. Water systems with high hazard ratings are generally put on a boil advisory until the source of contamination is found, or adequate treatment facilities are installed.

If you are concerned about impacts on a community water system following a natural disaster or other emergency situation, please refer to the following resources:

If you have your own water supply and have questions about potential impact on that supply, contact your local Environmental Health Officer.

Food Safety – safe food handling and preparation in emergency situations

Food safety is an important consideration in emergency situations such as a power outage, or following a period of evacuation from your home.

Food safety when evacuation orders are lifted

Upon returning to your home following a period of evacuation, it is important to ensure any food left behind has not spoiled or been compromised by a power outage.

Check expiry dates on food left behind during a period of evacuation, to determine if they are still safe to eat.  If frozen foods have thawed, they may not be safe to eat and must be discarded. (Thawed and refrozen ice cream may be a good indicator that helps to determine whether the freezer has been off. Fish product that is malodorous on thawing is also a good sign.)

If in doubt throw it out. Do not take any chances with the safety of your food.

Food safety when the power is out

If you are affected by a power outage, there are steps you can take to prevent food spoilage. Drinking water quality can also be compromised from power outages, contact your water supplier if you have questions.

When you lose power , if a generator powered refrigeration unit is available, transfer food to the unit. If a powered refrigeration unit is not available, leave food in the refrigerator or freezer and keep the door closed. 

Food safety when the power returns 

  • Ideally, fridge temperatures should remain at 4 degrees Celsius or below and foods in the freezer should remain frozen solid. 
  • A refrigerator can keep food cool for up to 12 hours and a freezer can keep food safe for days if it is kept closed.
  • If you don’t have a thermometer or if you don’t know how long your fridge was without power:
  • Check the products in the fridge for spoilage and souring.  Milk and other dairy products that have gone off/sour are good indicators that the fridge has been off and all food should be discarded.
  • If frozen foods have thawed, they may not be safe to eat and must be discarded.
  • Food in the freezer that has or may have reached 4C or higher should be discarded and must not re-frozen.
    • Thawed and refrozen ice cream may be a good indicator that helps to determine whether the freezer has been off. Fish product that is malodorous on thawing is also a good sign.
  • If there has been an extended power outage it may be necessary to contact your insurance provider. Make a list of items discarded and photograph these items if possible for insurance purposes.
  • Extra precautions should apply to ready to eat foods.
  • If in doubt throw it out. Do not take any chances with the safety of your food.