Red Deerians are reminded to take extra precautions while smoke from B.C. wildfires continue to cause air quality concerns.
The city continues to monitor air quality and may close outdoor facilities and amenities if the Air Quality Health Index exceeds level 7. Residents are encouraged to follow the city on social media for updates.
Environment Canada issued a special air quality statement for Red Deer and central Alberta early Friday morning (a previous statement was issued on Thursday).
According to the air quality index map on airquality.alberta.ca/map Red Deer was suppose to reach high risk level of 7 starting at 3 p.m. Friday.
“Over the weekend the forecast predicts we’ll probably get up above an eight on (Saturday),” said Barb McKee, the city’s recreation superintendent.
City outdoor activities are shut down when the air quality exceeds level 7.
She said those who want to escape the outdoor smoke and heat are welcome to visit the open common areas at recreation facilities.
“They are available without any admission. People can come in and just relax, have a seat, spectate, see what is going on around the amenities.”
Or they can participate in drop-in activities or registered programs, including public swim, lane swim, fieldhouse and gymnasium use, drop-in sport and fitness programming. Information about drop-in activities is available at www.reddeer.ca/dropin. People can also register for programming at www.reddeer.ca/recreation-and-culture/look-n-book.
“We got pretty accustomed over the last 18 months to being outside. Now this is a bit of a shift pushing people inside because of the air quality,” McKee said.
Laura Unruh, director of operations at the Mustard Seed, said her facility has some flexibility to take care of the homeless during bad weather.
“We’re always assessing the needs of our guests and so if people need to come inside and take a break from the smoke, we would make that available. We still have plenty of water available that we’re sharing,” Unruh said.
The city encouraged residents to limit strenuous outdoor activities, take frequent breaks and stay hydrated while smoke continues to impact local air quality. Residents should also monitor signs and symptoms of smoke inhalation. Prolonged exposure to excessive pollution or smoke can impact a person’s health, including irritating lungs and airways, difficulty breathing or worsening chronic diseases such as heart disease, chronic bronchitis, emphysema or asthma.
Environment Canada said wildfire smoke is a constantly-changing mixture of particles and gasses which includes many chemicals that can harm health.
Go online at albertahealthservices.ca/news/air.aspx for more details on how to protect youself.