Wildfire Smoke and Your Health

An increase in wildfire activity typically results in smoky skies and reduced air quality. This can be especially harmful for children, older people and people with pre-existing heart and lung conditions. The best way to protect yourself from the effects of wildfire smoke is to reduce your exposure to it. Here are some more tips on breathing easier during a smoky skies bulletin.

Prepare for Possible Evacuations

Many wildfires in B.C. occur far from cities and towns, but sometimes they threaten homes, businesses and infrastructure. Help keep your family safe by preparing in advance for a potential evacuation alert or order. Develop a household plan, put together your emergency kit and connect with your neighbours.

If an emergency, such as wildfires, threatens people’s homes, an Evacuation Alert or Order may be issued. Learn the difference here.

Emergency Social Services

If you’re evacuated from your primary residence due to a disaster, Emergency Social Services (ESS) may be made available for up to 72 hours or longer depending on your needs. Services can include food, lodging, clothing, emotional support and information updates. Learn more here.

Travel and Tourism Information

Wildfires can impact outdoor recreation, including area closures or restrictions. Read more about travel in BC during wildfire season here.

Prevent Wildfires

Nearly half of all wildfires in B.C. are caused by human carelessness. You can make a difference by following a few simple rules.

  • Check for bans and restrictions.
  • If allowed, campfires can’t be larger than 0.5 metres by 0.5 metres. Keep a shovel or at least eight litres of water nearby to extinguish your fire, and don’t forget to create a firebreak. That means making a one-metre debris-free area around your fire by scraping down to the dirt. Before leaving, ensure your campfire is completely out and the ashes cool to touch. Watch this video from BC Wildfire Service to learn more.
  • Call 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on your cell if you spot smoke, flames or an unattended campfire.

Prepare Your Property

Homeowners can take simple steps to reduce the impact of wildfire on their property. Download the FireSmart Homeowner’s Manual (PDF) to identify the changes you can make to help protect your home from wildfire.

Do not shut off your natural gas if you receive an evacuation order. Visit your local natural gas provider’s web page to learn more:

Accessing Medications During an Emergency

If you have been displaced by an evacuation, you can visit a pharmacy near you to access an emergency supply of medications you may need. Visit the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia to learn more.

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