OHS Canada Magazine

Wildfire smoke risks magnified by BC Coroners following death of nine-year-old with asthma

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July 18, 2023
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety air quality Asthma wildfires

Carter Vigh. Photo: Amber Vigh/Facebook

The BC Coroners Service has issued a public safety bulletin about the dangers of wildfire smoke following the death of a nine-year-old boy who had asthma.

Coroners are investigating the death of nine-year-old Carter Vigh of 100 Mile House. The sudden and unexpected death of this young boy is a heartbreaking loss for his family and community, it said.

“As the province experiences greater impacts from the effects of climate change, British Columbians are learning more about the risks associated with wildfire smoke, extreme heat and other environmental factors. This greater awareness can help us respond when risks are identified,” it said in a press release.

“The tragic loss of life during the 2021 heat dome resulted in far greater public awareness of the potentially fatal impacts of extreme heat. Our communities are now becoming more aware of the risks presented by wildfire smoke and the measures that can be taken to reduce those risks.”

Air quality warnings

British Columbia issues air-quality advisories and smoky-skies bulletins whenever an area of the province has been or is reasonably expected to be impacted by wildfire smoke. Residents can sign up to be automatically notified of air-quality warnings via an air-quality subscription service.


Smoke from wildfires is especially dangerous for people with pre-existing heart and lung conditions, older people, and infants and young children, it said.

Tips to protect yourself

The best ways to protect yourself from the impacts of the smoke are to reduce exposure by:

  • staying indoors with windows closed;
  • keeping windows closed and air conditioning on when driving;
  • reducing time spent outdoors and avoiding rigorous outdoor exercise;
  • using high-quality, portable air cleaners with HEPA filtration to remove smoke particles from indoor air; and
  • visiting places with controlled air supply, such as shopping malls, swimming pools or public libraries.

A GoFundMe has been set up by Vigh’s family. As of the time of writing, it had raised nearly $31,500. To donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/carter-vigh


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