Home Ventilation system Calgary wildfire smoke risk reaches high risk levels

Calgary wildfire smoke risk reaches high risk levels

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Populations at risk are advised to stay indoors or reduce strenuous outdoor activities

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Health officials are urging people to cut back on their time outdoors as smoke from wildfires blanketing Calgary reaches levels considered “very high” risk.

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On Sunday morning, the Environment Canada conference special air quality statement for Calgary rated the risk of smoke from forest fires in western Canada at a level 10, the highest number on the scale and just below the very high risk category.

He reached the highest level of 10-plus midday Sunday and should stay at a level 10 overnight.

Environment Canada Air quality forecast for Calgary, issued Sunday July 18, 2021 in the afternoon.
Environment Canada Air quality forecast for Calgary, issued Sunday July 18, 2021 in the afternoon. Photo by screenshot

Populations at risk such as those with respiratory and cardiovascular problems, the elderly, pregnant women and children are advised to stay indoors or reduce strenuous activities outdoors.

For the general population, the special statement read “Consider reducing or postponing strenuous activities outdoors if you experience symptoms such as cough and throat irritation.”

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It is also recommended to keep doors and windows closed and to close ventilation systems that bring in air from outside.

The tiny particles carried in acrid smoke are considered dangerous, especially for vulnerable populations.

Smoke from the wildfires also severely limited visibility in the Calgary area and other parts of the province.

Smoke risk is expected to moderate slightly on Monday with a reading of 9, which remains a high risk, before falling to 6, considered a moderate hazard, on Tuesday.

Thick forest fire smoke blanketed Calgary, obscuring the downtown skyline beyond the Calgary Stampede grounds on Sunday, July 18, 2021.
Thick forest fire smoke blanketed Calgary, obscuring the downtown skyline beyond the Calgary Stampede grounds on Sunday, July 18, 2021. Photo by Gavin Young / Postmedia

The city of Calgary announced a fire ban on Friday, primarily to prevent deterioration in local air quality.

“Today’s fire ban reflects an increased and significant air quality risk resulting from smoke from forest fires and a need to curtail the burning that would contribute to it,” Deputy Fire Chief said , Ken Uzeloc.

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Scientists say climate change has made the extreme heat that has severely dried out much of the interior of British Columbia much more likely and intensified, resulting in 300 wildfires.

Many of these fires remain uncontrollable and have resulted in several evacuations in this province.

But an Environment Canada meteorologist said on Sunday that most of the smoke in the Calgary and Edmonton areas was from wildfires that started well outside British Columbia.

Justin Shelley says that although the smoke problems in Alberta last week were largely due to the fires in British Columbia, a change in the wind has meant that most of the smoke in both cities is now coming from other fires in forest in northern Saskatchewan.

“It’s a multi-layered smoky mess,” said Edmonton’s Shelley, explaining that the wind direction differs with altitude, so smoke can blow from different provinces at different levels.

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A Torontonian in Calgary to market kitchenware on the Stampede grounds said he was shocked by the density of Sunday haze in the city.

“When I got up and saw all the smoke, I thought there were houses on fire around me,” Mohsen Karimiyan said.

A city police officer spending most of the day outdoors patrolling the Calgary Stampede said she was surprised not to be badly affected by the smoke.

“And I have asthma and allergies,” said the gendarme, who chose not to give her name.

But she noted that it was at the start of her shift.

“Ask me how I feel in six hours,” the officer said. “The smoke wasn’t that bad in Vernon when I was there last week.”

A spokeswoman for Calgary EMS said on Sunday they had yet to treat a spike in patients falling ill from the effects of the smoke, but added that it may only be a matter of time .

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“We haven’t seen a huge peak yet, but generally we tend to see a bit of a lag,” said Helene Hamilton.

She said her colleagues were busy with smoke-related calls in the summer of 2018, which turned out to be a particularly hazy season.

Most of those patients had asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, she said.

“The early days people were able to manage it at home… but there is a tipping point,” Hamilton said.

“The big push on our part is prevention – we recommend that people avoid the outdoors if they can and, when in their cars, recycle their air conditioning instead of having fresh air. inside.”

Earlier this month and late June, Alberta EMS was busy dealing with the effects of another climate change-related condition – extreme, record-breaking heat that is believed to have killed hundreds in the Lower Mainland. of British Columbia.

With files from The Canadian Press

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Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

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