Disaster relief: four tips for coping with wildfires, smoky skies

Being shrouded in smoke or having to flee from wildfires can cause anxiety, stress, depression

  • Jun. 24, 2019 11:15 a.m.

Smoke, evacuations, loss, worry –B.C.’s wildfires affect us all. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, you are not alone.

The fear of having to flee your home, leave possessions behind and relocate can cause distress, fear and anxiety for you and your loved ones. Even the prospect of living with smoky skies during wildfire season can cause distress. It is normal to have these types of feelings when experiencing an abnormal situation.

No one can predict when or where a big wildfire will occur, so it’s best to think ahead about how to stay mentally healthy this summer, suggests a news release from Interior Health.

1. Prepare yourself and your family.

Having a clear emergency plan and kit ready for your family, pets and livestock can ease your mind and allow you to focus on other needs. • Visit PreparedBC for resources to help you understand the hazards in your location and then build a family emergency plan. • Visit BCCentre for Disease Control for information on wildfire smoke and steps you can take to protect your health, both indoors and outdoors.

2. Take care of the basics.

Stress takes a toll on our physical and mental health. Try to eat well and get enough sleep. Be kind to yourself. Give and accept support. Follow your daily routine. Take a break from disaster news coverage and from thinking and talking about disaster events.

Read more: No motel refund for Okanagan tourst’s wildfire smoke woes

Read more: A look at B.C. wildfire smoke from space

Read more: B.C. sees 25% jump in inhaler use from wildfire smoke

3. Ask for help.

Whether it’s with family, friends, a doctor or a counsellor – talking helps. Crisis lines are available to listen and help anytime –not just during a crisis. People with moderate to severe symptoms that last more than two to four weeks should consult a family physician, if available. Otherwise, reach out to your nearest Mental Health and Substance Use Centre. Symptoms may include: trouble sleeping and eating; feeling depressed or hopeless; being anxious and fearful; having recurring thoughts or nightmares about the event; and avoiding activities or places that are reminders of the event.

4. Help others.

Check in on older people and children. Coping may be more difficult for older adults living alone, those with mental health challenges, or those with few social supports. Reaching out to connect with them can be a big help. Children who have experienced previous wildfire evacuations or adverse health effects due to smoky skies may need help from adults who provide care for them. The Canadian Mental Health Association provides Mental Health Tips For You and Your Family.

If you are struggling right now, confidential support and crisis lines are available 24/7.

•KUU-US (Nuu-chah-nulth) Indigenous Line at 1-800-558-8717

•Interior BC Crisis Line at 1-888-353-2273

•Provincial Crisis Line1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)

Visit http://gov.bc.ca/naturaldisasterhealth for more resources to cope with wildfire and natural disaster stress. Community talks, hosted by the Canadian Mental Health Association, will also take place in select communities throughout Interior Health this summer, visit BCDisasterStress.ca for more information.


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Andrew Bellerby out as RDCK’s regional fire chief

Bellerby held the job since January 2016

Kootenay Co-op adopts sensory friendly shopping

The new quiet hours run Sunday evenings 7:30 to 9 p.m.

LETTER: Slash and burn eyesores

From reader Tony Holland

VIDEO: Human-sized insects and a huge peach take over Nelson’s Capitol Theatre stage

Summer youth production James and the Giant Peach runs July 25 to 27

Annual Columbia Basin Culture tour coming up Aug 10 and 11

There are locations across the region participating

VIDEO: Plant-based burgers may not be as healthy as they seem

Both the Impossible and Beyond Burger have more saturated fat than beef burgers

Pamela Anderson adds star power to B.C. Green Party town hall

Celebrity attended Nanaimo meeting with representatives from U.S.-based environmental group

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

Will you be celebrating national hotdog day with any of these crazy flavours?

The popularity of hotdogs spans generations, cultures

Former home of accused Penticton shooter vandalized

Ex-wife of man who is accused of murdering four people had her house vandalized

Survivor of near-drowning in B.C. lake viewing life through new eyes

“If I died that day, the baby wouldn’t know his dad,” said 31-year-old Mariano Santander-Melo.

‘Beyond the call’: Teen in police custody gets birthday surprise by B.C. Mountie

Unusual celebration started when Staff Sgt. Paul Vadik went to visit the teen in his Coquitlam cell

Most Read