Saskatchewan and Alberta Air Quality Advisory
As many of our readers are aware, there has been high amounts of smoke and wildfires in Northern Saskatchewan & Alberta. The air quality in the outdoor environment has caused some concern for many people with respiratory issues, children & pregnant woman.
The largest fire near Weyakwin is three times the size of Yorkton. The Star Phoenix reports around 1,000 people in Saskatchewan have been forced to take shelter in other communities away from the wildfires, in schools, rec centres and hotels. However, the number of evacuees is likely to be higher, because the province’s social services ministry only tracks those in its care.
Visibilities have been reduced to less than 2 km in many areas especially in Central and Northern Saskatchewan. Closer to the fires, air quality is poor in many areas due to the smoke,” Environment Canada says. “Smoke near the ground may cause potentially high health risk conditions. The smoke is expected to persist over the next couple of days as winds will remain from the northwest and little to no precipitation is expected to flush out the smoke and haze.”
There have been 510 fires in 2015 to date. There are nearly 50 fires that are larger than 100 hectares burning in Saskatchewan, spreading from one side of the province to the other in the north.
Travel not recommended in the La Ronge area while a fire ban remains in place for all of northern Saskatchewan. Fireworks are also prohibited.
While there is no immediate threat to La Ronge, the communities of Montreal Lake, Wadin Bay, Sucker River, English Bay, Nemeiben and Weyakwin are under evacuation.
Montreal Lake Councillor Roger Bird said things became pretty intense when the fire came very close to the community, but with some help from provincial fire fighters they were able to save the homes.
In neighbouring Alberta, more than 130,000 hectares have burned as of June 29. Of 125 wildfires currently burning, 37 are out of control, according to a report from Monday.
The Northwest Territories are on their way to another active season, with more than 180,000 hectares burned and 166 fires burned to date. Officials are warning people in the town of Hay River to prepare to evacuation if the situation in that part of the territory worsens.
At this time we would like to remind our readers to take precaution if you need to be outdoors
- If you have neighbors, friends or relatives that live alone, check periodically to make sure they are OK. Seniors and people with heart or lung conditions may get sick from the smoke. When doors and windows are kept closed to keep the smoke out, houses may also get very hot. This can lead to heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Use fans to move air around inside the house
- Don’t run an air conditioner that needs to draw air in from the outdoors
- When in your vehicle keep the air on recirculate to avoid sucking the smoke inside.
- Keep physical activity outdoors to a minimum
- Try and keep travel to a minimum
Patients with asthma or other respiratory conditions should be vigilant about avoiding smoke and continue taking their prescribed medication. These people should also not hesitate to take their rescue medication when they need it. People on home oxygen should not make any changes to their oxygen.
- If you have room air cleaners with HEPA filters, turn them on.
- If you are at work and begin to feel air quality issues in their work area, please alertyour director and or site leaders. Facilities and maintenance staff are doing what they can to mitigate the issue but it is impossible to make our buildings completely free of the smoke.
- Drink plenty of water to keep your nose and mouth hydrated to keep breathing easy
- Be alert to Public Service Announcements and updates from the Ministries of Health and Environment and further updates from the Region.