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Should I cancel my trip if there are bushfires at my destination?

Should I cancel my trip if there are bushfires at my destination?
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Don’t let wildfires ruin your health on holiday

Climate experts expect the frequency and severity of wildfires and bushfires to increase because of global warming. Recent news stories from Australia have underlined the terrible destructive power of wildfires, and the impact on places distant from the fires themselves. Wildfires occur the world over, recently in:

  • Arctic regions
  • Australia
  • Bolivia
  • Amazon basin region of Brazil
  • Canada
  • Canary Islands
  • Greece
  • Indonesia
  • Russia
  • United States.

But the effects of smoke can spill over into neighbouring countries. For example, Bolivia, Chile and Peru experienced haze and pollution caused by smoke from fires in Brazil. And the smoke from fires in Siberia spread to the United States and Canada.

As well as the obvious risk to life and limb, bushfires can affect transportation, power and telecoms, water and food supplies, healthcare and emergency services. You may need to change your travel plans at short notice, and you should always comply with evacuation orders.

Note that tourists and visitors to an area affected by any natural disaster may not be very welcome and will put extra pressure on local services.

What are the effects of bushfire smoke on health?

Exposure to bushfire smoke, which contains a mix of fine particles and gas, over a long period can result in:

  • eye irritation
  • skin irritation
  • worsening of chronic heart and lung conditions.

What time of year are bushfires a problem?

The timing of the bushfire season varies from region to region. It usually coincides with the dry season or a drought.

What should I do if there’s a bushfire warning at my holiday destination?

If you find yourself in a place where there’s a bushfire warning, do as you are told by the local authorities. They will tell you to evacuate or shelter. Follow local media to get up-to-date information. If you find yourself trapped by fire, use the local emergency number.

Should I avoid travelling to a destination with a wildfire?

Before you travel to any destination you should check The government of Canada’s specific advice. Check local media and local authority reports, too. Then you can decide whether to travel. Be aware that bushfires may cause flights to be delayed or cancelled. Smoke can make strenuous activity harmful, so if your plans include sports, outdoor pursuits or physical labour, you may be better off delaying your trip until the threat is over.

If you have a respiratory condition that is likely to be worsened by smoke, then consider cancelling your trip. It will be difficult to avoid smoke in an area where there is a bushfire. Also, if medical and emergency services are affected by the fire, you may not get the help you need when your condition worsens. Other people who may suffer particularly in a smoky atmosphere include people with heart conditions, pregnant women, older people and children.

If any of these apply to you, speak with your normal healthcare provider about your travel plans to learn what steps will help you lessen the impact of smoke. We’ve got some general advice for travellers with asthma, too.

Where can I get travel vaccinations in Calgary?

If you need an appointment at a travel clinic in Calgary, turn to Canadian Travel Clinics. It is quick and easy to book online for an appointment at our clinic in downtown Calgary.