As wildfires rage in the west coast of the United States, the fire’s impact can be seen by looking to the sky. 

Smoke from the wildfires has made the trip to many parts of B.C., including the Cariboo region. 

Gail Ross, an air quality meteorologist with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, said that the smoke isn’t quite reaching the Cariboo like it is in other areas. 

“We aren’t expecting to see the magnitude of the impact that is occurring further south.” 

The B.C. Air Quality Health Index has Quesnel rated with a five, and Williams Lake with a six until tomorrow. 

“Once we start getting into the moderate risk category, which is a four through six, that’s where some of the health messaging come out, where people who may be more susceptible to impacts from wildfire smoke really want to pay attention to take efforts to reduce their exposure,” Ross explained. “Once we get into the higher risk category, there is essentially messaging for everyone to be certainly paying attention to reduce their exposure.” 

Wildfire smoke contains tiny particles that travel deep into your lungs when you inhale. These particles can cause irritation and inflammation, which can last until air quality improves. Most symptoms are relatively mild and can be managed without medical attention. 

  • Sore throat 
  • Eye irritation 
  • Runny nose 
  • Mild cough 
  • Phlegm production 
  • Wheezy breathing 
  • Headaches 

Some people may experience more severe symptoms and should seek prompt medical attention. If you are experiencing shortness of breath, severe cough, dizziness, chest pain, or heart palpitations, contact your health care provider, walk-in clinic, or emergency department. If you have a medical emergency, call 9-1-1. 

Exposure to wildfire smoke and the virus that causes COVID-19 can result in respiratory symptoms such as a dry cough, sore throat, or difficulty breathing. Use the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to help determine whether you need further assessment or testing for COVID-19. 

Ross said that they would be providing daily updates, but things should stay pretty similar to the current conditions until Thursday, where there is set to be a change in the weather.