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Wildfire smoke and air quality

Smoke from wildfires – even those thousands of kilometres away – can impact air quality in Winnipeg. Smoke can present dangers for all individuals but can be particularly difficult for at-risk populations, including young children, seniors, pregnant women, individuals with existing respiratory or cardiovascular conditions, and those who are active outdoors engaging in strenuous work or exercise activities.

Health impacts from the smoke may include eye irritation, coughing, and a runny nose. More severe impacts could include shortness of breath, asthma attacks, chest tightness, and elevated heart rates. The presence of smoke can also worsen the effects of pre-existing heart and lung conditions.

There are a number of precautions residents should take to protect against the hazards of smoke, including:

  • Limit time spent outdoors.
  • Consider moving physical activities to indoor areas.
  • Keep windows closed to prevent smoke from entering your home. Whenever possible, set your ventilation systems to recirculate air, turning off furnace and air conditioners which may draw smoke inside.
  • Consult your primary care provider if you have specific health concerns.
  • Check on any individuals who are considered at-risk populations (friends, family members or neighbours) and ensure they are staying safe and following precautions.
  • Keep informed by following the weather and checking the Air Quality Health Index or other public health sources

Sources:

Last update: July 12, 2019