October 21, 2015

Put your lungs first this bush fire season

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

Lung Foundation Australia CEO Heather Allan said people who had poor lung health should try to minimise their exposure to smoke from the fires.

“COPD Action plans guide patients and carers in recognising when their symptoms change and what action they should take,” she said.

“We also encourage everyone to make sure they have an action plan and that it was up-to-date and ensure any medicines are current.

“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.

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

Where possible, people with poor lung health in the areas affected by bush 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

Report all fires to Triple Zero – 000

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

Lung Foundation Australia – 1800 654 301