KAMLOOPS — A month ago, many of us would have raised our eyebrows and looked twice at the sight of them, but now breathing masks have become common place on the streets of Kamloops and in many towns around the Southern Interior.
Residents doing what they need to protect themselves from the vicious smoke from all the wildfires burning around the province.
Paul Robertson likes to throw the ball for his poodle Gunner. It's their routine after a cold swim in the river. But for Robertson, a mask in this smoke is needed to last the hours that gunner can spend chasing the ball.
"It's pretty bad. The mask is a must, particularly for the older people," said Robertson. "It keeps the smoke and the particulate matters out, and I've got a pretty bad cough because of the smoke."
Robertson has been wearing one going on five days, putting it on whenever he goes outside.
"About two hours a day with the dog, then when I have to do the lawn. But generally I'm staying indoors right now," he said.
Robertson is not alone. The people going outside aren't staying long. Clinton evacuee Slin Sound likes to be outside, but doesn't like to wear a mask.
"You wear one of these masks, they're tough to wear, too. Your mouth is sweating. It's one way or the other. It's bad wearing them and not wearing them," said Sound.
For those in need of a mask, places like NuTech Safety carry what you need. Owner Bob Dieno says the sale of masks have gone up 80 per cent from last year with the smoke hovering the last three weeks.
"The best option is an N95 respirator mask, either an 9210 or 8511, something that's comfortable," said Dieno. "It can be used multiple times. If you're going for a walk twice a day, you can use it for three or four days before you have to get another one."
For Robertson, he won't go outside without one — determined to wear it until the smoke clears.
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