A special air quality alert continues in central Alberta because of the smoke that has settled over the region from wildfires burning in the northern part of the province.
The dry conditions have also prompted a fire ban in the city.
The region’s air quality was forecast to reach a high of seven on a scale of 10 Thursday night, which is considered high risk.
People with breathing difficulties have been encouraged to stay indoors.
Even healthy individuals should minimize their exposure and avoid outdoor exercise, said Dr. Ifeoma Achebe, medical officer of health with Alberta Health Services’ central zone.
“If you can avoid it at this time, great. Parents should take note and protect their kids.”
Some relief may be in the air: Friday, the level is forecast to drop to a moderate four as the winds shift southeasterly.
Medical staff are not yet reporting an increase in patients with smoke-related health problems in the region.
“If it stays for a few days, we could notice some spike in emergency room or doctor’s office visits. It’s normal,” said Achebe.
The City of Calgary issued a fire ban Thursday in response to the dry conditions and poor air quality.
Open fires using charcoal, briquettes or wood, or any source of open flame, such as tiki torches, are not allowed.
Other fires, such as certified portable gas firepits, certified gas stoves or barbecuing dedicated for cooking, are still permitted.
Red Deer Emergency Services encourages residents to take extra caution to prevent fires. That includes proper disposal of smoking materials and cigarette butts.
“Many fires are started by cigarettes that have been thrown out of a window or discarded in plants,” a city release states.
People contravening the fire ban will be subject to a $210 fine.
Lauren Maris, environmental program specialist with the city, said last summer, a fire ban was in place between Aug. 8 and 29, also due to air quality and dry conditions.
Meteorologist Dan Kulak, with Environment and Climate Change Canada, said Red Deer experienced 30 millimetres of precipitation in May. The average for the month is 55 millimetres.