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Smokey Air and Being Active

Every summer is different from the last, and this 2023 summer has been unique. Temperatures were above average in most communities. According to CTV, on July 4, 2023, Inuuvik / Inuvik broke their record of 32.8 set in 2001 with a temperature of 33 degrees Celsius. Just four days later, two other NWT communities broke heat records. On July 8, 2023, Rádeyı̨lı̨kóé / Fort Good Hope broke their temperature record with a high of 37.4 degrees Celsius. The previous record was 35 degrees Celsius, set in 1920. Tłegǫ́hłı̨ / Norman Wells also set a new high on July 8, 2023, at 27.0 C breaking the 1989 record of 35 degrees Celsius.

As most have seen and experienced first-hand, along with the high temperatures, it has been a dry season. Water levels are dropping around the NWT—the combination of dry and hot leads to a bad season of forest fires.

The forest regenerates after fires, and some trees release seeds after a fire; however, there are many downsides to fires, and fires can cause harm to humans and impact daily activities. Our hearts go out to everyone affected by evacuations and those who lost their home because of a forest fire.

Tips & Tricks for Being Active on Smokey Days!

Summer in the NWT is a time to be out on the land and enjoy various activities!

It is recommended that you check the air quality before heading outdoors.

Check the air quality:

The Weather Network has an Air Quality Index you can refer to, and the Government of Canada has an Air Quality Health Index for Fort Smith, Inuvik, Norman Wells, and Yellowknife.

  • Based on the air quality ranking, you can then modify or may need to cancel your activity.

The higher the ranking, the higher risk associated with being outside.

  • One to three is a low health risk,

  • Four to six is a moderate risk,

  • Seven to 10 is a high-risk,

  • Anything 10+ is very high.

For anything over eight, it is recommended for people to be indoors with closed windows, especially those at risk with pre-existing lung conditions, including asthma. If you have earned to do or are commuting to and from work, you can wear an N95 mask with a filter will help reduce the impacts.

Open windows when the smoke clears:

Smoke will creep into your house in mysterious ways, and you might not even notice it, so be sure to open your windows when the air is clean again! Doctor Courtney Howard from Sǫ̀mba K’è / Yellowknife says, "We haven't found a safe limit of exposure" . The greater the exposure, the worse the health effects tend to be. Smokey air impacts kids, adults, babies in the womb, and Elders. There is a connection between those with pre-existing conditions being affected worse than others.

To sum it up, when it is smokey, and you want to head outside, look at the air quality and use that to determine the time appropriate for you to be outside. A rule of thumb is as the air quality index increases, your time and intensity should decrease significantly, mainly as the air quality index rises above 5.

Check the smoke forecast:

If you are planning for a sports team, yourself, or your family, check out the website to look at the air quality around you.

Did you know?

Did you know many public libraries, including the Sǫ̀mba K’è / Yellowknife Public Library loan

recreation equipment? You can borrow frisbees, soccer/football/baseballs and gloves, lifejackets,

board games, or even sewing equipment depending on which library you go to. Public Libraries

are also a great place to recreate out of the smoke (as are indoor community pools, gyms, and other built spaces). Connect with your public library to ask what recreation equipment they have for you!

Enjoy the summer and stay safe!


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