Heavy smoke causes air quality advisories in Prince Albert area over long weekend

Heavy wildfire smoke continued to linger over the river in Prince Albert on Sept. 4, 2023. – Jayda Taylor/Daily Herald

Wildfires across Canada caused thick smoke to blanket much of Saskatchewan over the long weekend.

While the haze was at its worst in the Prince Albert area on Sunday, Environment Canada’s air quality advisory continued on Monday.

Prince Albert was listed as 10+ or “very high risk” on the health index. Environment Canada expects the severity to start dropping on Tuesday.

“Wildfire smoke concentrations can fluctuate over short distances and vary considerably from hour to hour,” reads a statement issued on Monday morning.

Saskatoon and Regina were also sitting at 10+, for example, while the northern village of Buffalo Narrows and Estevan in the southern part of the province were ranked at two and three.

However, those two communities were projected to worsen into the week.

Prince Albert’s Parkland Ambulance said Sunday “was by the far the worst day of the year” for wildfire smoke.

Any amount of smoke, though, can irritate those with breathing problems, such as asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Environment Canada also said wildfire smoke can affect everyone’s health, even at low concentrations.

It’s best to stay indoors as much as possible until air quality improves, according to Parkland. If you have to go outside, limit exercise.

Smoke can also impact your pets, especially shorter-snout animals who are already more susceptible to breathing troubles.

Parkland said if you’re increasing medication use, such as an inhaler, but your breathing is getting worse, visit a health clinic, the hospital, or call paramedics. Healthline 811 is also available for advice 24/7.

Across Canada, wildfires across Canada are largely occurring in British Columbia and the Northwest Territories.

As of Monday afternoon, Saskatchewan had 22 active wildfires. All of them are ongoing assessment, meaning the fire is being monitored to assess its risk in the area.