Wildfire and Smoke Exposure - Public Health Notice

News Type: 

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES (September 26, 2023) – The Chief Public Health Officer is updating the Air Quality website to simplify information for residents. The new webpage uses information from PurpleAir® sensors and the Canadian Air Quality Health Index to help residents determine their own health risks due to adverse air quality.  

Over the summer, the Department of Health and Social Services worked with various community governments to install PurpleAir® sensors in communities around the Northwest Territories. The Chief Public Health Officer urges residents to visit the webpage below:

Protecting yourself

  • Reduce your exposure to smoke by staying indoors with windows and doors closed.
  • Use portable air filters (HEPA filters) in small (single) rooms to help improve indoor air.
  • Drink plenty of liquids and stay hydrated.
  • If you must be outside, use a face mask.
  • Do not smoke indoors.
  • Limit the use of incense, candles, or wood stoves indoors.
  • Check the proper functioning of carbon monoxide (CO) monitors.
  • If using a vehicle, use the re-circulation function in your vehicle’s ventilation system.

Protect your loved ones, neighbours, and elders by checking on them to ensure they are well-hydrated and protected from smoke.

Mental well-being

Prolong stretches of poor air quality and stressful situations like emergencies and disasters may raise anxiety, fear, concern and feelings of no control. People may not cope like they usually do. Learning about and using healthy coping skills is vital in maintaining good mental health.

  • Use breathing techniques to manage anxiety.
  • Pay attention to thoughts, feelings and body sensations.
  • Be sure to rest and try to get enough sleep.
  • Engage with friends and loved ones to maintain social connections.
  • Find a way to be physically active indoors.

Checking in with a mental health and counselling resource can help provide strategies, advice, and resources to deal with this challenging situation. Anyone in Yellowknife can access the community counselling program open Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 5 pm, by calling (867) 767-9110 ext 3.

There are also a number of remote supports that are accessible below:

  • NWT Help Line: 1-800-661-0844
  • Kids Help Phone:1-800-668-6868, Or text CONNECT to 686868
  • Wellness Together Canada  Adults: 1-866-585-0445, Youth: 1-888-668-6810
  • Canada Suicide Prevention Service:  1-833-456-4566
  • Hope For Wellness:  1-855-242-3310
  • Family Violence Crisis line:  1-866-223-7775


For more information, contact:

Andrew Wind
A/Manager, Communications
Health and Social Services
(867) 767-9052 ext. 49037