Forest Fires and Air Quality

Every year in British Columbia there are hundreds, sometimes thousands, of forest fires (also called wildfires). The smoke from these forest fires can affect the quality of the air, which can be harmful to your health. Poor air quality can be especially harmful for children, older adults, and those with heart and lung disease. For information about air quality and forest fire conditions across the province, or to learn more about what you can do to stay safe and healthy, click on the links below.

If there is an air quality advisory in your area and you experience difficulty breathing or you are wheezing, seek medical attention right away.

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Air Quality

Poor air quality can be harmful to your health, especially for children, older adults, and those with heart and lung conditions. For more information about air quality, including current air quality advisories, click on the links below.

For air quality information from your health authority, click on the links below.

Forest Fires

Smoke from a forest fire can contain high concentrations of fine particulate matter, which can be a health hazard. For more information about forest fires in B.C., including a map of active wildfires and news releases, click on the links below.

Staying Cool Indoors during an Air Quality Advisory

Please note that when there is an air quality advisory in your area, officials may recommend that you keep your windows closed with the air conditioner on (if you have one), or they may advise you to keep your windows closed with the air conditioner off. When your windows are closed and the air conditioner is off (or you don’t have one), you will need to take special care to stay cool. Make sure to stay up to date on the specific recommendations for your area. Visit BC Air Quality - Advisories for current information.

Here are some tips for how to keep your home and your family cool indoors when the temperature is hot outside and there is an air quality advisory. Make sure to follow the recommendations of the current advisory and pick the tips that work for your home.

  • Keep the windows and blinds closed while the sun is up.
  • Install an air conditioner (recommended with a health efficiency particulate air filter). Make sure that it recirculates air from inside your home only and that the filters are clean. Please note that during some air quality advisories it may be recommended that you turn your air conditioner off.
  • Drink plenty of cool, non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Place a bowl of ice in front of a fan to create a cool breeze.
  • Avoiding smoking or burning materials inside your home.
  • Avoid using the oven and instead cook on the stovetop or BBQ outdoors.
  • Do any physical activity in the cooler morning or evening hours.
  • Spend time in the cooler rooms of your home, like a basement.
  • Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Take a cool shower or bath.
  • Avoid getting a sunburn when out in the sun.

Last Reviewed: September 2016

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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