If you live in Vancouver, you’re facing a serious danger that you might not be able to see: toxic air that’s floating from nearby forest fires.
While many were celebrating the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, others were too distracted by the city’s horrendous air quality to pay much attention. When Vancouver held the Winter Olympics two years later, however, it faced no such scrutiny. After all, who could believe that a place so full of lush forest life and pristine mountain air could be facing poor air quality? Ironically, it’s exactly that forest life that’s bringing these two very different cities to equally deadly levels of pollution.
What’s Choking Vancouver?
According to the Ministry of British Columbia, there were 82 active forest fires in British Columbia as of July 21, 2015. And while it’s easy to think of fire damage as a process that only affects the ground, fires release huge quantities of toxic smoke. Where forest fires are rampant, smoke is easily blown into surrounding areas, and the quality of breathable air can be drastically diminished.
Fires release small particles that, though miniscule, are dangerous in high quantities. These particles can get into your eyes and lungs, which according to the EPA, can lead to “burning eyes, runny nose, and illnesses, such as bronchitis.” That’s just for the average person – if you have some kind of heart or lung disease, the situation is much worse. For people with conditions like these, forest fires have actually been connected to early death.
How Can I Protect Myself?
Pregnant women, children, and the elderly, as well as those with diabetes, heart conditions, or lung disease, need to be especially careful during this time. According to CBC News, the current air quality in parts of Vancouver is comparable to that of its heavily-polluted Chinese counterpart.
As such, air quality warnings have been sent out throughout British Columbia – and it’s important to pay attention. When the air is dangerous, there are key steps to take in order to stay safe.
The American Lung Association’s main suggestion is to limit your exposure to the outdoors: keep the windows up when driving, stay outside no longer than necessary, and avoid outdoor exercising. And if you’re inside, it’s still important to take precautions. During times of poor air quality, don’t use your fireplace – it’s counterproductive to burn things inside your house, whether it’s wood, gas from a stove, or a candle.
Don’t Wait to Breathe Freely
Poor air quality is something most people would never associate with a country like Canada. When the news continually rolls in from places like Beijing, it’s hard to believe that this situation could happen so close to home.
And that’s the first thing you should protect – your home. It’s where you and your loved ones spend the most time, and the air quality inside of it counts. Preventative measures, including dust masks, can only achieve so much. For keeping the indoors truly free of dangerous particles, Rabbit Air can offer a real solution.
Since 2004, Rabbit Air has provided customers with clean and healthy living environments through their line of advanced air purifiers. For your home or office, their products keep your air clean and healthy, not just during forest fires, but year round. Ensure your house is the safe haven that it should be – not a cesspool for poor respiration.
Odeya Pinkus is a rising Junior at Binghamton University and an editor at Binghamton’s biweekly newspaper, Pipe Dream.