Today’s Solutions: March 03, 2024

Wildfire smoke is hazardous to our health, impacting not just our respiratory system but also potentially producing long-term health problems. Experts say that the frequency and intensity of wildfires are increasing as a result of climate change—which we’ve been reminded of yet again with the recent and devastating wildfires burning across Canada. In fact, even though it’s only June, more than five million hectares have been burned across Canada this year, surpassing the record-holding year of 2021. This means that our attention and proactive efforts are necessary to protect our well-being and those of our loved ones.

While we cannot completely eradicate wildfires, we can take steps to reduce their impact and strengthen our resilience. We can safeguard ourselves and our communities by prioritizing climate action and implementing climate resilience methods. Let’s look at the best methods to prepare for a smokier future.

Clean air starts at home

If you take the necessary steps, your home can serve as a safe haven from wildfire smoke. Angela Yao, senior scientist at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, recommends creating a “clean air space” in your house. Here are some tips for improving indoor air quality:

1. Ventilation and Filtration: When outdoor air conditions allow, open windows and doors.

   – Seal crevices around doors and windows to keep smoke out.

   – In forced-air furnaces, use high-quality filters with a high MERV rating (preferably MERV 13) and replace them on a regular basis.

   – Determine whether your heating or cooling system draws in outside air and how to set it to recirculate during poor air quality situations.

   – Consider purchasing a HEPA-filtered air cleaner for your house or dedicated clean air zone.

   – If air conditioning is not accessible, look into other options for keeping your home cool during smokey periods.

Stepping out safely

Despite hazy conditions, walking outside is sometimes required. Take the following precautions to reduce your exposure to wildfire smoke:

1. Reduce difficult activity: Take regular breaks and engage in less difficult activities such as walking instead of jogging. Also, try to limit your time outside.

2. Protective Measures: If you work outside, talk to your boss about ways to restrict your exposure.

   – Put on an N95 or equivalent mask that effectively filters out fine particulate matter.

   – Carry required medications, such as asthma inhalers, and keep them up to date.

   Stay hydrated by carrying extra water with you and drinking it on a regular basis.

   – Check and replace your automobile’s air filters according to the recommendations of your mechanic or car dealer.

Building community resilience

In order to face the problems of smoke circumstances and climate change, we must support our communities. Consider the following community-building activities:

1. Advocate for healthy air: Work with local governmental authorities to guarantee that everyone has access to cleaner air.

   – Inquire about air quality standards for new and existing buildings, and urge retrofits to improve filtration and cooling systems.

   – Seek clarification on recommendations for changing or canceling outdoor activities during low air quality, and advocate for their improvement.

2. Assist community spaces: Work with community centers, schools, and health care facilities to guarantee proper air conditioning and air filtering systems.

   – Inquire about extreme smoke contingency plans and provide support in developing and implementing them.

Preparation for a safer future

Although preparing for a hazier future may necessitate some effort, being proactive now will bring peace of mind and safeguard your loved ones in the long run. Keep in mind this is a long-term challenge, and preparation is essential. Consider the following last suggestions:

1. Stay informed: Use local resources to stay up to current on air quality levels and be aware of health advice.

   – Monitor air quality indicators and become familiar with the associated health hazards.

2. Plan ahead: Create a household plan, including activities and supplies, for extended periods of inside living.

   – Ensure you have access to important things such as air purifiers before they become scarce.

We can navigate a smokier future with resilience and defend our own and our communities’ well-being by taking action and supporting collaborative initiatives.

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