Ontario is Burning
The world is changing and not for the better.
Scientists have long predicted the effects of climate change if change is not seen. Unfortunately, we have procrastinated making a significant, positive environment effect so much that we are now living in an era where we are incrementally suffering the consequences.
One of the recent issues Canada is currently facing are the forest fires in Ontario and especially in British Columbia. Wildfires are usually a part of nature and they play an important role in establishing ecosystems. However, fires can also be destructive and deadly in many ways.
Fires can destroy wildlife habitat, increase the risk of endangered species going extinct, release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide, and pollute the air which is dangerous for human health.
Let’s take a look at a recent horrifying example.
It turns out many people in Southern Ontario are not aware that ONTARIO IS ACTIVELY BURNING. As of July 26, there are well over 100 active fires burning in the province.
The majority of the fires are located in Northwestern Ontario, but that does not mean people in Southern Ontario should remain ignorant. Environment Canada has issued several statements regarding air quality concerns. These statements mention how the smoke plumes from the Northwestern fires may travel to other areas like the Greater Toronto Area and deteriorate air quality whilst drastically reducing visibility.
Wildfire smoke is definitely not something anybody should be breathing in. The smoke can be a source of toxic air pollutants which could lead to serious health effects if entered into our lungs or bloodstream. Regardless of age or health, anyone is at risk when there is heavy smoke conditions, however those at the greatest risk are children, seniors, pregnant women, people with lung or heat conditions, and people involved in strenuous outdoor activities.
Lookout for symptoms including:
- Eye, nose, and/or throat irritation
- Increased coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pains
If you are experiencing severe symptoms please seek urgent medical attention.
To protect your health during wildfire season, it is always best to avoid going out unnecessarily and avoid intense physical activity (this is because one breathes more heavily and introduces more particulate matter into the respiratory system). However, we should mention that this should not be used as an excuse to not exercise. Rather, ensure you are remaining physically active indoors. It is always best to stay active!
Moreover, as indoor air is generally more concentrated, it is also best to keep the windows and doors shut to prevent the pollution from smoke (especially at ground level) entering in. Although it might be tempting at night to open the windows and let in cooler air (whilst also trying to save some money on electricity), do not fall into the temptation…especially when there is a warning in effect! This can be just as bad as standing outside! Moreover, ensure to set ventilation systems to recirculate (to help keep pollutants from entering).
Last but not least, stay updated with air quality statements, the Government of Canada has a public weather alerts page where you can see a full list of regions with special air quality statements.
Fires are terrifying and saddening. We need to take drastic immediate action NOW to avoid intensified catastrophic events from forest fires. If we don’t…situations like these will continue to occur and get worse year after year.