Canceling outdoor activities to keep kids safe from poor air quality

"We decided to cancel because it was the safest thing to do for all of our kids"
Posted at 5:51 PM, Jun 07, 2023

AMHERST, NY (WKBW) — Wildfire smoke and haze caused very poor air quality across Western New York Wednesday.  

Hazy conditions across Western New York Wednesday edsay from wildfires.

School districts including Buffalo Public Schools canceled all outdoor activities for Wednesday and Thursday evenings.  

7 News hearing from community members about how they are being impacted. 

Don Henley, head groundskeeper. 

“This is not my real voice. My nasal passages are all swollen up because of this,” replied Don Henley, head groundskeeper. 

Hensey is the head groundskeeper of baseball fields in Amherst. He tells me he is feeling the effects of the smoke from the Canadian wildfires.

You won't see bases loaded as Little League games have been canceled in Amherst to avoid poor air quality and to protect children.

Brian Emerson, general manager, Central Amherst Little League.

“It's just not safe to play. We don't want to push it,” remarked Brian Emerson, general manager, Central Amherst Little League. “We decided to cancel because it was the safest thing to do for all of our kids and all the families that come out to support them each night.”

Emerson says the poor air quality is prompting the decision to cancel games across all six baseball diamonds Wednesday night.

Baseball filed in Amherst.

“The health and safety of our families and our kids is the most important thing and you don't know what's going on with them. You don't know who has severe allergies or asthma or some other condition that might be impacted. It's just not worth the risk to put a kid in jeopardy,” responded Emerson.

I talked with Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein to find out why babies, young children, and teens are particularly vulnerable.

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein.

“Who is vulnerable with this heavy smoke coming into the region?” Buckley asked. “Everybody is vulnerable to some degree. However, there are certain populations that are at very high risk with this high amount of particular particles in our air that is really affecting our air quality, so that would include our older adults, our young children — infants and children and teens, especially those with chronic lung conditions like asthma,” replied Burstein. “Because children are in that population, where they're very vulnerable, we know their airways are much smaller so — they don't have as much wiggle-room if particles in there  or the particles cause inflammation in the airways."

Dr. Burstein says asthma is very common in our area.

“This inflammation will you know, really trigger an asthma attack. so, you know, parents should you know, really watch see how their kids are doing — you should know what your kids look like when they're having trouble breathing or developing an asthma attack,” described Dr. Burstein.

Youth working outside in Amherst Wednesday.

But if you have chronic lung conditions, smoke, or have cardiac conditions you are also urged to stay indoors.  

The West Seneca School District also canceled outdoor activities. Outside West Seneca Schools playgrounds were empty.

Empty playground outside West Seneca School.

The smell of smoke continues moving through the region. The health commissioner tells me Thursday could be even worse but for now. It's all about protecting your kids from the harmful smoke.

“It's just a great idea that we just don't want to have the children out even in conditions like this,” Henesey noted.