With La Niña’s reign over the last 3 years coming to end, Australia will once again face the fierce nature of bushfires. Not only can the fires themselves put lives at risk, but many people in the community can be vulnerable to the dangers of smoke inhalation. This includes people with lung conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), those with hay fever, people with heart conditions such as angina and ischaemic heart disease (IHD), people over 65 years of age, children 14 years and younger, pregnant women, people with diabetes and people with active respiratory infections including COVID-19.
Some general measures to take during bushfire season include:
– keeping your home window and doors closed, especially with active fires nearby
– utilize air conditioners with recycled air setting activated
– air purifiers inside the home
– monitor air quality everyday to assess your risks of outdoor activities/pollutant exposure; a good resource for this is Air Pollution in Australia: Real-time Air Quality Index Visual Map (aqicn.org)
– constantly check in and monitor on health of children, elderly people and others at risk
It is highly recommended that you see your GP for an individualised management plan to optimise your protection this bush fire season, especially if you are at risk. This can facilitate many important interventions such as an updated Asthma/Wheeze Management Plan, medication optimization, ensuring adequate supply of relievers/preventors on hand, discussing preventative strategies, and consolidating an escalation plan for emergency situations.