Saskatchewan Health Authority reminds residents of risks associated with wildfire smoke

A smoky view of the South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon. Skycam / Global News

Smoke advisories continue to blanket many parts of Saskatchewan as wildfires rage on throughout the province.

As air quality continues to remain poor because of the fires, especially in the northern half of the province, members of the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) are expressing their concerns over possible health risks.

Dr. Simon Kapaj, a medical health officer with the SHA, said the concerns revolve around forest fire events causing poor air quality for the foreseeable future. He added that it doesn’t help when the smoky air is coupled with high temperatures.

“This can cause serious health effects for different groups, especially children, seniors and individuals who have long or heart disease,” shared Kapaj. “Combine that with the hot temperatures, people can also experience heat stroke or heat exhaustion.”

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Environment Canada states in its smoke advisories that people can experience symptoms including increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath when an air quality advisory is in effect in the region.

“The fact that the smoke contains small particles, which can be inhaled into the lungs, can cause chronic issues or aggravate medical conditions such as asthma or chronic bronchitis,” Kapaj mentioned.

His message to the public is for people to reduce their time outdoors if their area is under an air quality advisory.

“It’s important to stay inside and keep windows closed. Turn an air conditioner on instead if you have one, and if you don’t have air conditioning, try spending some time in an air conditioned place like a mall or library if possible,” recommended Kapaj.

“We have to keep an eye on individuals that are at risk, especially those who live alone, children, the elderly or those more susceptible to smoke.”

Many Saskatchewan communities have been placed under air quality statements as of Tuesday afternoon including Regina, Prince Albert, Yorkton, Estevan, Humboldt and all of northern Saskatchewan.

Click to play video: '‘One of the highest counts in last 10 years’: Sask. reports 161 active fires'
‘One of the highest counts in last 10 years’: Sask. reports 161 active fires

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