Environment Canada has issued a Special Air Quality Statement for Okotoks and much of the Foothills as smoke from a local fire moves into the area.

Smoke from a fire just to the west of Waterton Lakes National Park is causing poor air quality in parts of southwestern Alberta, in areas closer to the foothills, air quality is expected to remain poor for the coming days.

Environment Canada suggests residents take proper precautions to protect themselves from poor air quality.

"Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk.

If your home is not air-conditioned, be sure the house doesn't get too warm when doors and windows are closed to keep out smoke. Exposure to too much heat can also result in illness.

In general, wearing a mask is not the best way to protect your health during a smoke event. In fact, masks may lead to a false sense of security, which may encourage increased physical activity and time spent outdoors, meaning increased exposure to smoke. They can also make breathing more difficult.

People with lung diseases, such as asthma and COPD, can be particularly sensitive to air pollution. They will generally experience more serious health effects at lower levels. Pollution can aggravate their diseases, leading to increased medication use, doctor and emergency room visits, and hospital visits.

Stay inside if you have breathing difficulties. Find an indoor place that's cool and ventilated. Using an air conditioner that cools and filters air may help. If you open the windows you may let in more polluted air. If your home isn't air-conditioned, consider going to a public place (library, shopping mall, recreation centre) that is air-conditioned."

The Special Air Quality Statement is in effect for:

  • M.D. of Foothills near Cayley
  • M.D. of Foothills near High River and Aldersyde
  • M.D. of Foothills near Longview and Eden Valley Res.
  • M.D. of Foothills near Okotoks and De Winton
  • M.D. of Foothills near Priddis and Brown-Lowery Prov. Park
  • M.D. of Foothills near Turner Valley and Black Diamond
  • M.D. of Willow Creek near Claresholm and Stavely
  • M.D. of Willow Creek near Nanton and Parkland

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