Sask. sees smoke from wildfires, high temperatures across province

Sask. sees smoke from wildfires, high temperatures across province

It’s a warm, smoky day for most of the province, thanks to a low pressure area passing through on Monday.

Special Air Quality Statements from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) were issued for many areas in the province, including Kindersley, La Ronge, Meadow Lake, Regina, Prince Albert, Moose Jaw and Saskatoon.

“There is a lot of smoke coming from wildfires in the southern Northwest Territories, northeastern British Columbia and northern Alberta,” said Jennifer Smith, a meteorologist with ECCC.

“If you look ahead to how that’s going to play out in the future, it’s definitely going to stick around in Saskatchewan for a few more days.”

At 9:00 a.m. CST, Regina was reported as having a high air quality risk.

During the same period, air quality in Saskatoon was assessed as moderate risk, but is expected to rise to high risk later in the day.

According to ECCC, fine particles in wildfire smoke pose the greatest health risk, with the elderly, infants, outdoor workers and those with illnesses or chronic conditions likely to be affected.

The agency is warning people who are more likely to experience air quality complaints to stay indoors or limit strenuous activity and time outdoors.

Indoors, it is recommended to keep windows closed and use air purifiers. Outdoors, it is recommended to wear an N95 mask.

Mild symptoms include irritation of the eyes, throat and nose, but more serious symptoms may include chest pain or severe coughing. In emergencies, ECCC recommends seeking medical attention.

The smoke is expected to clear later this evening.

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Vulnerable people are at extra risk

Toby Esterby, director of operations at the Saskatoon Community Clinic, says staying cool and hydrated varies by part of the city.

“We have to consider vulnerable populations who may not have the same access to the things that can help us cool down,” he said.

Esterby said they are stocking up on water bottles to hand out and have set up a misting tent in front of their building for people experiencing homelessness and other vulnerabilities as a priority. They also have a water fountain so people can constantly refill their water bottles.

“Last year we distributed about 25,000-35,000 bottles of water from the clinic. We are going to continue that this year. So people can come to our doorstep for free water,” he said.

“We make sure that people feel welcome in the shadow of the building. Right now that’s at the back of the building. So it’s a very busy spot at the back of the building.”

Toby Esterby, director of operations at the Saskatoon Community Clinic, says their facility is handing out free water and has a mist tent out front to help people beat the heat. (Pratyush Dayal/CBC)

Esterby warns that the combination of heat and smoke, just like last summer, can be unpleasant, especially for people with respiratory conditions.

Esterby said they see an average of 250 people a day on their property. He said another 100 people come in daily for water.

“Talk to your neighbors, especially the elderly and seniors in the area.”

A spokesperson for the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival said in an emailed statement that they have installed refillable water stations, mist tents and shade tents at their main festival site in Victoria Park.

“All artist trailers are air-conditioned and there are also cooling fans on stage for artists. In addition, we have a team on site from St. John Ambulance,” the statement said.

Temperatures are expected to reach around 30 C

According to ECCC, this is the first heat wave of the year in Western Canada.

Heat warnings are in effect in many areas, including Lloydminster, Prince Albert, Battlefords, Meadow Lake and Buffalo Narrows.

In the areas for which a heat warning is in effect, temperatures around 30°C and lows around 16°C are expected over the next three to five days.

According to ECCC, temperatures will rise on Monday, but extreme heat is expected from Tuesday to Thursday, before temperatures will drop again towards the weekend.

Highs on Thursday are expected to be around 36 degrees Celsius in places like Moose Jaw and Regina, while temperatures will even reach around 34 degrees Celsius.

“To get an idea of ​​whether records will be broken, yes, there is a good chance that records will be broken, especially further south, right along the Canada-U.S. border,” Smith said.

Environment Canada advises people to take precautions in heat, watch for signs of illness and stay cool.

For advice on health risks or precautions due to the hot weather, people can call Healthline 811.