Many Canadians Affected by Wildfire Smoke: 5 Ways to Adapt Your Home to the New Normal

This year's fire season, which began early owing to record-breaking heat and a widespread drought, is predicted to be harsh, endangering agriculture, woods, and grasslands across North America. We have friends and family who have drive through these regions first hand and it’s quite concerning to hear about the scale of these events.

Although wildfire smoke is not as detrimental to human health as air pollution generated by traffic and industry, it is nonetheless hazardous.


Smoke from wildfires is a complicated mixture of tiny particulate matter (PM 2.5) and gases including volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide. The composition of the mixture is determined by a number of factors, including the burning fuels, combustion temperature, weather, and distance from the fire.


Larger fires can drive plumes into the free troposphere, which is above the ground-level layer of air, where removal pathways are restricted and upper-level winds are stronger. This is how they can cover such large distances.

The notorious Lytton Creek fire in B.C. has burned through 843 square kilometres and was classified as out of control by the B.C. Wildfire Service as of Thursday afternoon.


And reopening of the Coquihalla Highway south of Merritt on Tuesday, after a closure due to the July Mountain and Brooks Creek fires burning on either side of the road, has eased some evacuation concerns in the community, said Ken Gillis, chairman of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.


Where is the Wildfire Prone Real Estate in Canada?

In the provence of BC we have heard of many people who had no idea they had moved to a fire-prone areas without warning from the government, real estate agents, or sellers. Over 60 million homes were within a mile of a wildfire between 1992 and 2015. As climate change increases the risk of bigger, more frequent wildfires in the American West, these statistics are only projected to climb.

This is the New Normal for our Home: Here’s 5 ways to enjoy summer, as we learn to live with this seemingly endless wildfire smoke:


1. Evaluate your health, and act accordingly.

News outlets and other professionals have advised that people with asthma, COPD, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses, as well as those with acute infections like COVID-19, are more likely to be affected by the smoke. Pregnant women, infants, the elderly, and those who work or live outside are the most susceptible to risk factors. If you are concerned about smoke inhalation please check in with your doctor.


It is also advised to limit exposure: a typical adult breaths around six litres of air per minute while they are at rest, but this may easily rise to 60 litres during vigorous activity.


2. Find a good place to hang out

Large air filtration systems and generally high interior air quality are common in public locations like libraries, community centres, and retail malls. Unfortunately, during the COVID-19 epidemic, access to some of these locations may be limited, therefore creating a pleasant atmosphere at home is more vital than before.

3. Make sure you get enough water

Staying hydrated aids in the removal of toxins by the kidneys and liver, which can assist to decrease any systemic inflammation induced by wildfire smoke inhalation.

4. Pay attention to smoke forecasts for wildfires.

Forecasting wildfire smoke patterns is even more difficult than forecasting weather, yet models are improving over time. Websites like FireWork in Canada and BlueSky in the United States provide smoke forecasts for the next 48 hours.

5. Get ready for the upcoming season immediately.

According to climate scientists, wildfire seasons are becoming longer and more severe as the climate changes. The greatest method to avoid being affected by smoke is to plan and prepare ahead of time. In western North America, there is a growing understanding that humans must learn to live with wildfire and smoke.



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