Southern Alberta businesses, seniors homes protecting against wildfire smoke

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WATCH ABOVE: Poor air quality continues to persist in parts of southern Alberta. Wildfire smoke began to track into Alberta over the weekend, blanketing much of our province and beyond. As Erik Bay tells us, the smoky haze has many paying close attention to what’s in the air – Jul 20, 2021

For people working outside, it’s a topic that’s been hanging over their heads — literally.

“When it comes to smoke, I don’t remember it being as bad as it was (Monday),” said Dean Savage, the owner of Dino’s Landscaping and Design.

Wildfire smoke in southern Alberta is prompting reminders to limit time outside.

But when your office is the outdoors, it’s easier said than done.

Savage said when the smoke thickens, breaks and other safety measures are brought in.

Read more: B.C. wildfire update Tuesday: Hundreds more people forced from their homes

“(Monday) would be a case where we would have to sit down and talk about it, if we’re going to make the guys wear safety masks or not,” he said.

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When it comes to those vulnerable to the smoke and its harmful particles — people like senior citizens — monitoring the air becomes a priority.

Read more: Satellite images show wildfire smoke spreading across Canada

Taber and District Housing Foundation CAO Tim Janzen said when the air quality drops, the air-handling equipment in its seniors homes is checked several times a day.

“If the air quality is too poor, we will stop some of the outside air coming into the building,” he said.

“To date, we haven’t had to do that.”

Residents with respiratory challenges are also monitored and outside activities are currently on pause.

“There’s a daily walking group that goes out every morning, and they’ve decided to discontinue walking because of the air quality,” Janzen said.

For Savage, dealing with the weather is all part of the job and he will continue watching the sky.

“With the industry we’re in, we’re always dealing with something, so we’re ready to change or make adjustments — whatever we need to do,” he said.

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The good news for everyone? The situation is improving, with Environment Canada now rating Lethbridge’s air quality index as low risk.

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