Environment Canada has issued a smoky skies bulletin for the Nicola area, including Merritt and the surrounding area, for the next 24 to 48 hours.

Officials said in a release today (August 16) wildfire smoke can be harmful even at low concentrations, noting that anyone can take action to reduce their exposure to wildfire smoke.

“People with lung disease (such as asthma) or heart disease, older adults, children, pregnant people, and people who work outdoors are at higher risk of experiencing health effects caused by wildfire smoke,” reads the release. “Speak with your health care provider about developing a management plan for wildfire smoke events and maintaining a supply of necessary medications at home and always carrying these medications with you during wildfire season.”

Environment Canada recommends people take a break from the smoke at a location in their community where you can find clean, cool air. In Merritt, this could be the public library, located at 1691 Garcia St. The City of Merritt confirmed to the Herald on Monday (August 14) that it will not open cooling centres as the city is only under a special weather statement, and not a heat warning.

As of 8:35 a.m. today, the Air Quality Health Index level for the Kamloops area is 10+, considered very high risk.

The next bulletin update will be available August 16. The bulletin can be accessed online at www.gov.bc.ca/airqualityadvisories.