Smoke causes poor air quality warning for Winnipeg, forces nearly 180 to leave Manitoba communities
Published Sunday, July 7, 2019 9:22AM CST
Last Updated Sunday, July 7, 2019 5:34PM CST
Environment and Climate Change Canada and Manitoba Health issued poor air quality warnings for Winnipeg on Sunday as smoke from wildfires in eastern Manitoba and northwestern Ontario drifted into the city for a second day .
The special air quality statement said elevated pollution levels are expected Sunday.
“In the Red River Valley, the worst of the smoke should clear out this morning, however lesser amounts could linger into tonight. However, communities toward the Ontario border, such as Little Grand Rapids and Bissett, may still experience poor air quality through tonight and into Monday,” the statement said.
People may experience 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.
“In these current conditions, even healthy individuals may experience sore eyes, tears, coughing and a runny nose,” the statement said.
People with lung diseases, such as asthma and COPD, can be particularly sensitive to air pollution and 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,” the statement said.
Sunday morning, the Government of Canada’s Air Quality Index showed Winnipeg was at number 9, which is high risk.
Air quality is expected to improve Sunday from southwest to northeast Manitoba as winds strengthen out of the south and push the smoke back towards the north.
The special air quality statement for Winnipeg ended shortly before 3 p.m.
Close to 180 people forced to leave Manitoba Communities: Canadian Red Cross
The Canadian Red Cross in Manitoba said Sunday it’s helping people get out of Little Grand Rapids and Pauingassi because of smoke in the communities.
Michelle Palansky is a communications advisor with Red Cross Manitoba.
She said her team has been activated to evacuate close to 180 people from the remote communities northeast of Winnipeg.
“It’s a smoke issue,” said Palansky.
‘Priority one’ people are being evacuated. “They would be the most vulnerable,” she said.
Katelyn Leveque is in Little Grand Rapids with her three year old son.
“It makes it harder to breathe we’ve all noticed, the smoke is harsh on the eyes, feels like a bit of burn,” she said in a message to CTV News Sunday.
“My son and I just started to have a bit of a cough yesterday and I have an irritated throat.”
Palansky said the Red Cross is waiting to find out if wind is dissipating the smoke, or more evacuations will need to take place.
She said it’s not clear if there is a fire close to the community or heavy smoke is blowing from somewhere else.
She said all evacuations are expected to be completed Sunday.
Stay safe in the smoke
In areas affected by smoke from wildland fires, Manitobans are encouraged to:
- limit outdoor activity and/or strenuous physical activity; if breathing becomes difficult or uncomfortable, stop or reduce the activity
- reduce exposure to smoke by staying indoors or moving to areas with cleaner air, as conditions can vary dramatically by area
- turn off furnaces and air-conditioning units that may draw smoke indoors
- keep indoor air cleaner by avoiding smoking or burning other materials
Manitobans with health questions or concerns can contact their health-care provider or call Health Links - Info Santé at 204-788-8200 or toll-free at 1-888-315-9257.