March 1, 2014

Lung Foundation Australia urges people to check in with their lungs as Morwell residents advised to leave

Lung Foundation Australia is warning people to look after themselves and be aware of the extra pollutants in the air caused by fires in Morwell, especially if they have existing lung conditions.

Respiratory specialist Chris Warsnop said the state’s chief health officer, Rosemary Lester, had advised residents older than 65, younger than five, those who are pregnant, and people with persisting heart or lung conditions who live or work in South Morwell to leave.

“People who have poor lung health should try to minimise their exposure to smoke from the fires, make sure their action plans were up-to-date and ensure any medicines are current,” Mr Warsnop said.

“Smoke and pollutants in the air can penetrate deeply into the lungs and irritate the airways causing symptoms in people with existing problems such as COPD and asthma to worsen, including wheezing, chest tightness and difficulty breathing,” he said.

“Children, the elderly, smokers and people with pre-existing illnesses such as heart or lung conditions (including asthma) are more sensitive to the breathing in of fine particles from smoke.

“That’s why they are being advised to leave.”

Mr Warsnop said where possible, people with poor lung health in areas affected by the fires should:

  •  Avoid physical activity outdoors while smoke is in the area
  • Rest more frequently and keep away from the smoke where possible
  • Follow their action plans and treatment advised by their doctor and keep their medicines close to hand.
  • Have their emergency plan ready in the event of an evacuation or the loss of essential services (such as power loss)
  • Close windows and doors to minimize smoke in their home
  • Switch their air conditioner (if they have one) to recycle or recirculate

Key contact numbers for more information

For general health advice, call healthdirect Australia – 1800 022 222

Lung Foundation Australia – 1800 654 301