Home Health Smoky Air Smoky Sunday skies in the west shore


Smoky Sunday skies in the west shore

West shore area has worst air quality on Vancouver Island today.

Sunday August 20, 2023 | LANGFORD, BC [Posted at 11 am | Last update 2:35 pm]

by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. | Island Social Trends

This is the second morning in a row that many people on south Vancouver Island have seen an orange hue in the sky.

It’s from wildfire smoke.

[See BC Wildfire updates: Wildfire Update Aug 18 – State of Emergency | Wildfire Update Aug 19 – tourism accommodation restrictions]

The sky has an orange hue, even penetrating through drapes or blinds to give unusual hues to indoor spaces. | Click to see current Air Quality Health Index map for the west shore

smoky skies, langford, wildfire
Wildfire smoke from the mainland has reached Langford this weekend. This photo at noon on Aug 20, 2023. [Island Social Trends]

West shore smoke:

Today the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) for Vancouver Island is the worst in the Greater Victoria west shore area. At 10 am it was at Level 6 (of 10), and at 11 am it was still at Level 5. By 1 pm it had reached Level 4.

air quality health index, vancouver island, aug 20
Air Quality Health Index for August 20, 2023 showing the west shore area of south Vancouver Island as highest on the island. [BC Air Quality]
air quality health index, levels, west shore
Air Quality Health Index levels for the west shore area of south Vancouver Island, at 11 am on Sunday Aug 20, 2023. [BC Air Quality]

The smoky day in many places today sees people changing plans if outdoor activity is hard on their health.

Today’s cooler temperatures (a high only around 20°C today, compared to mid-20’s temperatures all last week) is something of a reprieve when outdoors or indoors.

Prevent smoke from coming indoors:

Try to prevent wildfire smoke from entering your home by sealing doors and windows and keep them closed as long as the temperature indoors is comfortable, says the BC Ministry of Health today in a news release.

People with respiratory conditions (e.g. asthma or any pulmonary disease) are more likely to experience adverse effects from smoke, says BC Health. Also at higher risk are people with heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and older adults. Pregnant women, infants and children should also take precautions to reduce smoke exposure, says BC Health.

air quality, west shore, wildfire smoke, aug 20, 2023, 1 pm
Air Quality Health Index for the West Shore of south Vancouver Island, on Sun Aug 20, 2023 at 1 pm. [BC Air Quality]
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Events outdoors:

Today is the annual Langford Car Show, outdoors from 10 am to 2 pm, right in the thick of this smoke.

Yesterday the All-Sooke Day event was held in Sooke under smoky skies.

If going outside today, due to the wildfire smoke some folks might want to wear a mask or at least shorten their plans to remain outdoors.

northwest territories, air quality, health advisory
Wildfire smoke health advisory — simple instructions in this Northwest Territories health bulletin, Aug 20, 2023.

Wildfire smoke contains particulates that require more work by the the lungs. Components of the fire retardant chemicals that are used to combat the fires are also in the air. Particulates that are inhaled deep into the lungs can cause inflammation and irritation.

smoky skies, sooke, event
Smoky skies in the morning at All Sooke Day event in Sooke, BC. [Twitter/X: District of Sooke]

Also stay hydrated if outdoors in smoky conditions, as you would anyhow in hot weather.

AQHI Index Values:

The BC Air Quality index values are in four risk ranges: Low, Moderate, High and Very High.

air quality, index values, bc
Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) Values. [BC Air Quality]

Today’s 4 to 6 range in the west shore is Moderate risk. Moderate risk is defined with these recommendations:

  • At risk population: Consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outdoors if you are experiencing symptoms.
  • General population: No need to modify your usual outdoor activities unless you experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.

Map shows impacted areas:

The Regions of BC highlighted on the map (from Saturday August 19) as issued by the Air Quality Section of the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy are the areas being impacted or are likely to be impacted by wildfire smoke over the next 24-48 hours”

smoky skies, map, vancouver island
Smoky skies map for Vancouver Island on August 19, 2023. [Air Quality Section (Assessments and Stewardship) Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy]

Outflow winds are bringing smoke to the south coast region. Smoke concentrations will be variable across the south interior depending on local winds.

Daily bulletins for now:

The next bulletin update from the Air Quality Section (Assessments and Stewardship), Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, will be available August 20, 2023.

heat, prepare, emergency, jdf

The August 19 bulletin can be accessed online at https://www.gov.bc.ca/airqualityadvisories

Be informed:

During a wildfire, smoke conditions can change quickly over short distances and can vary considerably hour-by-hour.

Wildfire smoke is a natural part of our environment but it is important to be mindful that exposure to smoke may affect your health.

People with pre-existing health conditions, respiratory infections such as COVID-19, older adults, pregnant women and infants, children, and sensitive individuals are more likely to experience health effects from smoke exposure.

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