While the summer season only just arriving, the dreaded bushfire season is now well and truly underway.
With fires continuing to burn across much of NSW we decided to go in search of those all-important tips on how to keep those with respiratory conditions and difficulties safe as the fires rage.
Those suffering from asthma, children and the elderly are usually the first to feel the effects of smoke pollution caused by fires.
Smoke from fires contains harmful gases that include: carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide and a number of other organic compounds which are known to irritate airways and trigger potentially fatal asthma attacks.
Keep in mind that while you may be miles away from where the bush fires are burning, changes in wind direction can see a lot of the particles that are omitted into the air swept across other surrounding areas.
In fact, even after a fire has passed, the smoke haze can remain in the area for days after the fires have subsided.
The Asthma foundation offers the following tips to keep you and your loved ones breathing easy during bush fire season.
Top tips for breathing easy during bushfire season
- Visit your doctor to update your Asthma action plan prior to the burn-off/bushfire season.
- When there is smoke from fires in the area, unless you are advised to evacuate you should stay indoors, close all windows and doors and block all air vents and use a filtered air conditioner to circulate air.
- Avoid doing physical activity outdoors when there is smoke around.
- Continue using your preventer medication as prescribed on your written Asthma action plan and ensure you have plenty of reliever medication with you at all times.
- Keep an extra reliever puffer with your most precious papers or photographs or evacuation kit to ensure it goes with you if you need to leave suddenly. Do not keep an inhaler in your car as extreme heat may make your medication ineffective. Some medication canisters can also explode under intense heat conditions in cars.
- If you are exposed to bushfire smoke, stay low to the ground and wear a face mask of thick cloth over your nose and mouth to prevent breaking in large amounts of smoke and particles.
- If you are exposed to smoke and your inhaler or your reliever medication isn’t helping to control asthma symptoms you should begin asthma first aid and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
You still need to be careful in the days after the fires subside, try to wear a face mask or cloth, and wet down any dry, dusty areas before doing any cleaning up.
Wheezing, coughing, chest tightness or shortness of breath can occur for several days after smoke is inhaled, so people with asthma and other lung conditions need to very carefully monitor and manage their asthma and seek medical attention if increased symptoms persist.