Smoke from forest fires in British Columbia continues to move into Alberta, resulting in poor air quality across the province.
Air quality is expected to be intermittently poor in the upcoming days. During a wildfire, smoke conditions can change quickly over short distances and can vary considerably hour-by-hour.
Air quality impacts everyone in the population and these impacts can be more serious for those with pre-existing medical conditions, especially underlying heart/lung problems.
It is important that we all take the necessary precautions to protect ourselves and patients from the hazardous effects of smoke. The Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) recommendations for patients and the public can be found here: http://aep.alberta.ca/air/air-quality-health-index/about-AQHI.aspx
Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased cough, throat irritation, headache or shortness of breath. Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma and COPD, are especially at risk. They will generally experience more serious health effects at lower levels.
Poor air quality, such as the smoke we are currently experiencing, can aggravate their diseases and lead to increased medication use and medical visits. We have seen a small increase in emergency department visits and calls to Health Link; thank you everyone who continues to support and offer care and advice to people with respiratory concerns.
If you can taste and/or smell smoke in the air, or if the AQHI is in the high risk (7-10) or very high risk (10+) range, the following precautions are recommended:
· Monitor your symptoms
· Minimize outdoor physical activity.
· Remain indoors with windows, doors and air circulation fans/vents closed.
· While driving, keep windows and vents closed. Put your car fan on re-circulate mode to avoid drawing in outdoor air.
· Stay inside if you have breathing difficulties.
· Find an indoor place that's cool and ventilated. Using an air conditioner that cools and filters air may help.
Taken from Alberta Health Services
Dr. Christopher Sikora
Interim Senior Medical Officer of Health
CETS' tips for using (or assisting others in using) an inhaler:
People with respiratory conditions such as; Asthma, COPD, Bronchitis, Emphysema will find it especially challenging during this smoky weather. People with these conditions will usually be prescribed Salbutamol. This drug is commonly referred to as a “Puffer” or “Ventolin”. Although it has a few names, the important part about this drug is that it will always be in a BLUE inhaler. Some key points on using an inhaler.
- Make sure you shake the inhaler it before administering - If you have a “Spacer” make sure you use it. (If you don’t, most of the medication will stay in the back of the throat instead of deep into the lungs where it needs to be) - Breathe out and hold the inhaler or spacer end in the mouth, as you breathe in, press down on the medication canister. - Inhale the vapor and hold your breath for as long as possible before exhaling. This way the medication can get deep into the lungs.