Health officials are issuing stern warnings as smoke continues to make its way into Saskatchewan due to wildfires in Alberta and British Columbia.
The smoke has caused Environment Canada to put out an air quality advisory for much of the province.
Medical health doctor for the Saskatchewan Health Authority, Maurice Hennink said the smoke can have a big effect on certain people, including the elderly and children.
“People, in particular with heart and lung conditions and those that are taking medication for that, need to be particularly aware of (the smoke) and take some steps to ensure that they manage themselves comfortable with the changing environment,” Hennink said.
Precautions include making sure you’re taking your medication, staying indoors as much as possible and staying somewhere cool.
“Watch for your symptoms. If you’re feeling short of breath and it’s getting worse or you’re feeling nauseous and dizzy, seek help and get assistance. If it’s particularly concerning call emergency services for assistance,” Hennink said.
He also said to keep an eye on your friends and neighbours if you know someone who could really be affected by the heat and smoke.
Hennink also advised against strenuous outdoor exercising and said to wear a hat, put on sunscreen and drink lots of water if you’re going outdoors.
The impact of the smoke on our lungs
Smoke has a wide range of health affects from mild to severe, according to Jill Hubick, a registered nurse with the Lung Association of Saskatchewan.
“Some of the health effects can even be life-threatening if you have lungs we want you to be concerned about the smoke and take precautions to protect your health, specifically your breathing,” she said.
The most common symptoms to watch for are irritated eyes, a runny nose, headaches or worsening of allergies.
“People that are already exposed to a lung disease, like someone with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, are even greater risk of having an asthma emergency … or lung attack or flare up … in both cases is very serious,” Hubick said.
Since our lungs are only meant to take in clean air, Hubick said any time there’s smoke in the air or air pollution, it can impact all of us.
“Everyone will have a different reaction, some more severe than others. It’s important for people with lung disease to follow their recommendations by their doctor or healthcare provider,” she said.
Hubick said anyone with a lung disease should always carry emergency medication with that and when it’s smoky to remain indoors.
“We’ve heard from people with lung disease that are finding it much more difficult to breath, having to remain indoors, increase their medication, take precautions,” she said.
Anyone with questions about breathing can call the association at 1-888-566-LUNG(5864).