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Medical officer warns vulnerable residents to stay indoors

Posted on May 25, 2023 by admin

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman

Southern Alberta Newspapers

With multiple wildfires burning across the province and shifting winds, smoke has reached the local area, and with it reduced air quality. 

South Zone Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vivien Suttorp, said last week it’s difficult to predict how long poor air quality will remain because it depends on the wildfires, weather conditions, air conditions and wind direction.

“That is not easily possible to predict,” Suttorp said. “I think we are in a very dry late spring this year, so even on a day-to-day basis we see changes in our air quality.” 

She said her main advice is for individuals to be aware of the air quality and projections throughout the day or throughout the next day and take the necessary precautions. 

“Individuals are impacted differently with air quality. Some individuals are more sensitive, some people are more vulnerable; For most individuals sitting by a smoky campfire people get irritated eyes, nose, and throat and end up producing more mucus.” 

She said the system produces more mucus to protect you from the irritants of the smoke in the particulate matter. 

“The individuals may sneeze, may have some coughing. Individuals with underlying lung conditions or heart conditions, such as asthma or COPD may end up having more coughing and may experience some symptoms of shortness of breath.”

She said the main point with air quality is that impacts people differently and said that the best people can do is to stay indoors while smoke is present, especially those who are at high risk, which include young children, seniors and those with lung and heart conditions. 

“Avoiding is the most effective measure. I know it’s hard to avoid when it’s surrounding us, but trying to stay indoors, making sure the windows are closed, and there’s no direct airflow from outside without filtration, and in your car use the re-circulation instead of continuously pulling in the smoky air.” 

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