May 30th, 2024

B.C. mom whose son died from wildfire smoke trying to make this year safer

By Nicole Ireland, The Canadian Press on May 14, 2024.

Nine-year-old Carter Vigh, wearing a red sweatshirt, is pictured with his brother Daxton (left), sister Cadence, father James and mother Amber. Carter died of asthma exacerbated by wildfire smoke in July 2023. As wildfires rage in B.C., his family is trying to protect people from poor air quality due to smoke this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Vigh Family **MANDATORY CREDIT**

As wildfires rage in British Columbia, the family of a nine-year-old boy who died last summer is trying to protect people from poor air quality due to smoke this year.

Amber Vigh says it’s “scary” to know the wildfire season is once again in full swing and she is feeling “probably a little bit of PTSD.”

But she’s hoping that Carter’s Project, a partnership between the family and the BC Lung Foundation, will help make a difference.

They are set to give out more than 100 air quality monitors tonight in their hometown of 100 Mile House, B.C., and will teach people how to make air purifiers using box fans and HEPA furnace filters.

Carter Vigh died of asthma exacerbated by wildfire smoke in 100 Mile House last July 11.

Yesterday in the B.C. legislature, the Vigh family’slocal provincial representative introduced a private member’s bill – called Carter’s Law – that would ensure better air quality management and protect vulnerable people during wildfire seasons.

Vigh, along with her husband James, son Daxton and daughter Cadence, went to Victoria to watch BC United MLA Lorne Doerkson introduce the proposed Wildfire Amendment Act on Monday.

“To see the tears in everyone’s eyes that were sitting in the house and to hear the applause, it was honestly incredible,” Vigh said in an interview Tuesday.

“It’s obviously something that I wish didn’t have to happen,” she said.

“But I’m so incredibly proud that all of these things are happening in Carter’s name.”

Although the air quality in 100 Mile House seems to be OK right now, Vigh said that could change with the wind anytime.

“It’s definitely a fear when you have all of these people in our community that have compromised immune systems and compromised lungs,” she said.

On Wednesday, the Carter’s Project team will teach students 100 Mile House Elementary School about asthma and air quality and make air purifiers with them.

The school will then have 20 air purifiers to use this year – enough for every classroom and the library, Vigh said.

Having the equipment to monitor air quality locally, as well as air purifiers to create a safer indoor space, is critical, she said.

The day Carter died, his family didn’t know how poor the air quality was because the nearest air quality monitoring station was in Williams Lake, nearly 100 km away.

“It definitely brings a peace of mind that we…will have the ability to see what’s happening in real time in our area,” Vigh said.

Vigh’s goal is to make sure every community in British Columbia has both air quality monitors and air purifiers. Money for the devices is being raised through the BC Lung Foundation.

The foundation is currently assessing which communities Carter’s Project should visitnext, Vigh said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 14, 2024.

Canadian Press health coverage receives support through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. CP is solely responsible for this content.

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