Highway 1 eastbound through Hope was closed Sunday (Sept. 11) as the Flood Falls Trail wildfire continued to grow. The smoke is reaching as far as Abbotsford, where school officials say they will be doing everything they can to reduce smoke exposure for students and staff. (Photo courtesy of BC Wildfire Service)

Highway 1 eastbound through Hope was closed Sunday (Sept. 11) as the Flood Falls Trail wildfire continued to grow. The smoke is reaching as far as Abbotsford, where school officials say they will be doing everything they can to reduce smoke exposure for students and staff. (Photo courtesy of BC Wildfire Service)

Abbotsford schools announce plan to reduce smoke exposure in class as wildfires burn

Smoke in Abbotsford is from as far away as Hope and the United States wildfires

The Abbotsford School District has announced they will be taking the smoke-filled skies seriously this week by helping to reduce smoke exposure for staff and students.

They published an air quality advisory notice on their website and social media accounts on Sunday evening in response to the heavy wildfire smoke in the area.

They said that this week, schools will limit smoke exposure for staff and students by implementing temporary health and safety measures that include:

– Allowing students who are sensitive to the smoke to remain indoors during lunch/breaks;

– Closing exterior doors and windows;

– Rescheduling outdoor activities, particularly strenuous activities like PE;

– Closely monitoring students with asthma or other breathing conditions; and

– Closing doors and windows and utilizing filtered ventilation systems during the health warning.

Heavy smoke from wildfires drifted into Abbotsford on Friday morning and the smoky situation has remained steady since then.

A special air quality advisory has been in effect for the region through the weekend and many are suffering from common side effects of smoke exposure, including headaches. Environment Canada is forecasting that some of that should dissipate beginning this evening.

The smoke is from wildfires burning southeast of Chilliwack and Hope, including two fires near Manning Park (Heather Lake) and Hope (Flood Falls Trail). Furthermore, winds from the south are bringing additional smoke from wildfires burning in Washington and Oregon State.

Environment Canada warns that “exposure to PM2.5 is particularly a concern for people with underlying conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and/or diabetes; individuals with respiratory infections; pregnant women and infants; children; older adults; and outdoor workers (e.g. construction and agricultural workers). Individuals who are socially marginalized may also be at elevated risk (e.g. people who are experiencing homelessness or are underhoused).”

They suggest spending time indoors in spaces with HEPA air filtration and air conditioning, such as community centres, libraries or malls.

If you are experiencing symptoms such as chest discomfort, shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, seek prompt medical attention. Call 911 in the case of an emergency.


@CHWKcommunity
jessica.peters@abbynews.com

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