Western Canada Wildfires Infopost

Haven’t seen a big info post for the large amount of wildfires currently active in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia, especially as to what people can do. So here it is:

Keeping Informed:

Each province has their own website pages dedicated to wildfire information. If you are in an area currently affected by a wildfire, they can be of help as they have maps of fire activity and smoke distribution as well as air advisories. They also have information about wildfire management and prevention if you’re curious/aren’t up to date on that. There have been no reports yet as to whether any of these wildfires were started by human error but always obey Fire Bans, and be careful of open fires even if you’re on private property near brush or woods. These pages also have contact information for reporting a fire you don’t see on their reports and maps. If you are active on Twitter, consider following your province’s emergency info/alert agency.

Saskatchewan - Map of Active Fires >100ha (pdf), Fire Ban info, Air Quality Readings (doesn’t seem to be working for me atm), SaskAlert
Alberta - Wildfire Status Map (pdf), Fire Ban info, Air Quality Health Index (mobile friendly view), Alberta Emergency Alert
British Columbia - Active Wildfires Map (Google Maps), Fire Ban info, Air Quality Health Index (please note Metro Vancouver is currently at 9-12, see Advisory [pdf]), Emergency Info BC
All - Smoke Forecasts (epilepsy warning: maps may flash white between frames)

Keeping Safe:

People in all smoke affected areas: please read the Lung Association of Saskatchewan’s Forest Fires and Lung Health Sheet. It has symptom info for smoke inhalation and very importantly, warning signs for Asthma and COPD attacks. Here are some general precautions to take:

  • Stay cool and hydrated.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise.
  • Remain indoors if possible.
  • When driving, keep windows and vents closed, use air conditioning with the recirculation setting to avoid introducing outside smoke.
  • If you use an air conditioner in your home, follow advice as above.
  • If you have a room air cleaner in your home, use it. Make sure filters, which can be especially helpful (such as HEPA filters), have been replaced if necessary. Consider purchasing one if you or anyone in your home appears to be sensitive to the effects of the smoke.
  • Pay special attention to children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Take shelter in large air conditioned buildings.

How to Help:

On the front line, firefighting services are provided by the Forestry Service and they do not accept donations. The best way to help them is to follow fire bans, be cautious, and be prepared for evacuation by having supplies and plans ready if you are in a wildfire risk area and to pay attention to any evacuation warnings and orders.

Evacuation services are generally provided by the Canadian Red Cross, a Non-Governmental Organization. They are who to call if you have been separated from family due to evacuation orders. They do accept monetary donations, and you may specify where you wish for your donation to go, such as to Canadian disaster relief. If you are not in an area where evacuees are being sheltered, this is probably the most effective way to help. There is also an independent GoFundMe started to help families of Northern Saskatchewan.

If you are in an area where evacuees are currently being sheltered, local organizations likely take over as the Red Cross volunteers already have their hands full at evacuation centres. In Saskatchewan, the Salvation Army is accepting summer clothing and footwear for evacuees, which can be dropped off at their thrift stores. However, efforts are largely decentralized, so please do local research for where you can volunteer or donate, or even connect with evacuees needing shelter if you have (or can make) space in your home. There is a Facebook page called Sask Evacuations - Helping One Another you may want to check out.

Finally, spread the word. The more informed we all are, the better.

Everyone in Vancouver right now is going through what Winnipeg has been going through on and off for a month now. Honestly the only time the sky was clear for the past week was during the nasty thunderstorm last night. (While yours is coming from the North ours are from Saskatchewan; for those who can please donate to help some relief)

While it does make the sky and the sun look like the world is ending or in a fall out, it still is fire smoke and can be dangerous for people with or at risk of respiratory problems, elderly and young children are extremely at risk.

Here are some tips taken from CBC

Tips to reduce your personal health risk.

Avoid roads with heavy vehicle traffic and areas with wood smoke.

Stay cool and drink plenty of water.

Continue to manage medical conditions such as asthma, chronic respiratory disease and heart failure. If symptoms continue to be bothersome, seek medical attention

Stay in a cool, air-conditioned environment and reduce indoor sources of pollution such as smoking and vacuuming.

Run an air cleaner. Some room air cleaners, such as HEPA filters, can help reduce indoor particulate levels

Take shelter in air-conditioned buildings which have large indoor volumes and limited entry of outdoor air.

Check and replace filters as needed.

Many people here don’t know they are at risk of a respiratory problem and are now finding out and/or developing one, so listen to your body and seek medical help if needed.

Just a friendly reminder that Prime Minister, Stephen Harper hasn’t publicly acknowledged the Wildfires in Western Canada

On his twitter he has talked about: Meeting with Joe Biden, Watching the women’s FIFA game, attending the Calgary Stampede, even wishing a happy birthday to a long serving Senator, but he couldn’t find the time to even mention the wildfires. He’s the PM of this country, he should act like it.

Contrast that to the other party leaders:

Even Green Party leader, Elizabeth May retweeted articles about these fires.

Not a peep from the Prime Minister.

This is a good illustration of how severe these wildfires are in Canada right now.

We have had more than double the number of Wildfires that we had in 2014, and its early July.

And more than 4X as many hectares of land have burned compared to last year.

These numbers are staggering. 

The Yukon has lost 202X more land so far in 2015 due to Forest Fires compared to all of last year.

BC and Saskatchewan have lost more than 22X and 26X more land due to wildfires so far this year compared to all of 2014.

Saskatchewan has recorded 3X as many fires this year compared to all of 2014.

British Columbia has recorded 2.4X as many fires this year compared to all of 2014.

Alberta has recorded almost 1300 fires just this year.