Media Releases

Don’t ignore asthma as bushfires escalate in NSW

7 Mar 2023

The National Asthma Council Australia (NAC) today issued a warning for regional NSW residents with asthma, as bushfires the across the Toongi and the Burrendong areas intensified and the fires in Tambaroora, about 270km north-west of Sydney, were placed on “watch and act”.

Debbie Rigby, Clinical Executive Lead at the National Asthma Council Australia, said with around 40 fires burning across the state, residents in the affected areas with asthma or hay fever need to be extra vigilant.

“People near the bushfire areas who have been exposed to prolonged smoke and haze need to watch out for extra asthma and allergy risks.

“Smoke from fires can increase air pollution and can affect your health, so if you or your child start to have any breathing problems, coughing or chest tightness, make sure you act quickly and seek professional help to stop it turning into an asthma attack.

“Asthma is too dangerous to ignore and coupled with stress and anxiety it could trigger dangerous flare-ups for people with asthma,” said Ms Rigby.

A reprieve from the high temperatures is not expected until Thursday, with fire authorities warning of a high fire danger risk for much of the state, as well as the possibility of thunderstorms in the north-east NSW today and Wednesday.

“Hot dry air and dust from bushfires can cause asthma symptoms to flare-up and people in high risk areas need to make sure they pack their asthma medication and asthma action plan in their emergency evacuation kit.

‘If you’ve lost your written asthma action plan or need one for the first time, your GP can work with you to set out a personal plan that factors in the effects of bushfire smoke,” Ms Rigby said.

Anyone with asthma living in a high-risk fire zone should include asthma management in their fire safety survival plan:

  • Take your preventer inhaler as prescribed. This is the best way to stop your asthma from getting worse and will provide at least some protection from bushfire smoke.
  • Ensure you have an up-to-date Written Asthma Action Plan from your GP and know what to do if your asthma worsens
  • Keep your reliever (blue puffer) handy at all times
  • Make sure you have plenty of asthma medication available to you
  • If you decide to evacuate, take your asthma inhalers and other medications with you

If asthma symptoms occur, don’t delay:

Visit the NAC website for tips on how to look after your asthma or allergies and download the

Bushfires and Asthma Fact Sheet.

For further information or an interview with a NAC spokesperson contact:

Donna Le Page, Le Page PR Mobile: 0429 825 703

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