July 17, 2014 8:13 pm

WATCH: North Okanagan in smoky haze

VERNON – A Smoky Skies Advisory is in effect for a large part of the interior including the Okanagan, Shuswap, and Similkameen.

In Vernon the current conditions are keeping people like senior, Lily Tuba, indoors.

“I wouldn’t be breathing if I go out,” says Tuba.

She fears going outside would land her in the hospital on oxygen and she’s not the only one impacted.

Health officials are advising the public to take precautions and avoid strenuous outdoor activity when it’s smoky outside.

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The smoky conditions are more dangerous for those suffering from a chronic illness, kids and seniors.

“You can get symptoms such as sore throat, scratchy eyes. You can start getting breathing difficulties, cough [and] chest pains,” says Lizette Elumir, a resident public health physician.

Health officials say anyone who is having difficulty breathing, has chest pain or develops a sudden cough should contact a health care professional.

This is actually the first time a Smoky Skies Advisory has been issued.

It’s part of a pilot project.

The advisory kicks in when smoke concentrations have already, or may, reach levels that are of concern to human health.

Traditionally advisories were only issued for smoky conditions in areas that had a monitoring station.

“We do not want to confuse people in believing that because no advisory was issued there was no smoke in their area. So this is an attempt to get a more general set of messages to a much larger area during periods when it’s likely that smoke will be affecting at least some of the communities in an area,” says Ralph Adams, air quality meteorologist with the Ministry of Environment.

The advisory could be lifted this weekend if weather and fire conditions cooperate.

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