Here are a few pre-long weekend heat and fire related reminders and updates for you. Scroll down for details on each of the following:
- Air Quality advisory for Metro Vancouver
- Cooling Centre open in Wesbrook Community Centre
- Extreme Fire Advisory in Pacific Spirit and all other Regional Parks
In addition, with the heat advisory this weekend, please check in on vulnerable neighbours who may be suffering in the heat.
- AIR QUALITY ADVISORY
Metro Vancouver is now issuing an Air Quality Advisory for eastern Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley Regional District because of high concentrations of ground-level ozone that are expected to persist for the next couple of days during the hot and sunny weather. The current forecast indicates hot temperatures through Saturday, with some cooling on Sunday.
Metro Vancouver is also monitoring conditions associated with wildfire smoke from fires burning in the interior of B.C. and Washington. Wildfire smoke models are forecasting that smoke from these fires may reach parts of Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley Regional District on Saturday and continuing in to Sunday. A change in the weather on Monday is forecast to bring onshore winds to help clear the smoke. Smoke concentrations may vary widely across the region as winds and temperatures change, and as wildfire behaviour changes.
Ground-level ozone is not emitted directly into the air. It is formed when nitrogen oxides (pollutants emitted when fuels are burned) and volatile organic compounds (emitted from solvents and other sources) react in the air in the presence of sunlight. The highest levels of ground-level ozone are generally observed between mid-afternoon and early evening on summer days.
Avoid strenuous outdoor activities during mid-afternoon to early evening, when ozone levels are highest, especially if breathing feels uncomfortable. Consider choosing easier outdoor activities, such as walking instead of running, where you don’t have to breathe as hard. Exposure is particularly a concern for people with underlying conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) including bronchitis and emphysema, as well as asthma, and/or diabetes; individuals with respiratory infections such as COVID-19; pregnant women and infants; children; outdoor workers (e.g. construction and agricultural workers); and older adults. Individuals who are socially marginalized may also be at elevated risk (e.g. people who are experiencing homelessness or are underhoused).
As we are in the summer season with warm temperatures, it is also important to stay cool and hydrated. Indoor spaces with HEPA air cleaner filtration and air conditioning may offer relief from both heat and air pollution, but please observe any COVID-19 protocols. Consider creating a comfortable space at home with a portable air conditioner (if you do not have central air conditioning). If you are experiencing symptoms such as chest discomfort, shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, seek prompt medical attention. Call 9-1-1 in the case of an emergency.
Metro Vancouver works in cooperation with Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fraser Valley Regional District and B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy to look after air quality.
Information about real-time air quality readings for Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley communities and potential health impacts can be found at www.airmap.ca and www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/bcairquality/readings/find-stations-map.html.
To sign up for air quality alerts in your area, go to: www.metrovancouver.org/services/air-quality/engagement/mailing-list
2. COOLING CENTRE IN WESBROOK VILLAGE
Please see the attached notice from the UNA about a cooling centre available this weekend in Wesbrook Community Centre.
3. EXTREME FIRE RISK IN OUR PARKS
Metro Vancouver has raised the fire danger rating to extreme in all of its regional parks and greenways, and is asking the public to exercise caution when visiting these areas.
After weeks of unrelenting heat and no precipitation, regional green spaces are tinder dry and extremely sensitive to sparks and fire. Warm, sunny and dry conditions are expected to continue through the week and long weekend, with forecasted temperatures in the mid to high 20s and no significant rainfall predicted for the next week.
All regional parks and greenways, along with the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve, remain open to the public at this time, but full or partial closures could be implemented in coordination with local fire authorities.
During all times under extreme fire danger rating, Metro Vancouver will increase patrols and step up enforcement to protect natural areas in regional parks and greenways from the threat of wildfires. Those found engaging in high-risk, prohibited activities could be subject to fines ranging from $500 to $10,000.
Tips for park visitors to help keep parks safe and open:
- Comply with posted signs and fire danger guidelines
- Be aware of spark and ignition sources
- Stay on designated trails
- Call 911 to report wildfires, and alert regional parks staff
- Do not smoke in Metro Vancouver regional parks or greenways, except in designated smoking areas
- Do not light campfires or use briquette barbecues or stoves
Stoves or barbecues can be used under the following circumstances:
- Only in cases where a local jurisdiction has not banned use of cooking stoves in parks and greenspaces (local bans take precedence)
- Propane barbecues and gas cooking stoves are only allowed in day use areas with picnic tables and picnic shelters, group camps and campgrounds
- Users must stay with the barbecue or stove at all times while it is lit
- Portable CSA or ULC approved campfire apparatuses with a maximum flame of 15 centimetres are permitted in supervised campgrounds only
Metro Vancouver’s regional parks system consists of 23 parks, five greenways, two ecological conservancy areas and two park reserves. Regional parks staff are trained in basic fire suppression and safety, and each park has a fire preparedness and response plan, along with wildfire suppression equipment. Local fire departments will respond to fires in regional parks, and Metro Vancouver watershed firefighters are highly trained, on call and available with specialized equipment to provide backup if necessary.
For information on fire danger ratings for each regional park, please visit Metro Vancouver’s website.