Bushfire smoke raises health concerns

Monday 23 December

Smoke from local bushfires can be seen across South Australia today and may pose a health risk to people, particularly those with lung or heart conditions.

The Department for Health and Wellbeing’s Acting Chief Public Health Officer, Dr Chris Lease, said the combined effects of recent hot weather and poor air quality from bushfires means vulnerable people should take extra precautions.

“Hot weather and poor air quality are a dangerous combination and we are urging people to stay indoors, stay hydrated and reduce their exposure to smoky air,” Dr Lease said.

“Smoke particles can aggravate existing health problems such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, asthma and heart conditions.

“People with these conditions are most at risk, and should stay indoors as much as possible until the smoke clears and make sure they follow their personal management plans.

“It’s a good idea to stay in touch with elderly neighbours and friends who may be more vulnerable, and keep in mind that pregnant women and young children may be more sensitive to smoke too.”

People with asthma should follow their asthma action plans and carry their reliever medication at all times.

If you are running an air-conditioner in your home or car, switch the air flow to recycle or recirculate to reduce the smoke coming inside.

It is recommended to avoid vigorous activities, especially if you have asthma or other chronic lung or heart conditions.

Symptoms of smoke inhalation may include difficulty breathing, coughing, chest tightness, heart palpitations, fatigue, itchy or burning eyes, throat irritation, a runny nose and illnesses such as bronchitis.

The symptoms of smoke inhalation can occur several days after exposure so it is important to be vigilant and continue previously prescribed treatment.

Anyone requiring urgent medical attention should call Triple Zero (000).