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Extreme weather predicted to impact people with asthma

1 Dec 18

Asthma Australia today launched a new campaign that is offering support and information to Australians to Breathe Better in Extreme Weather, recognising the impact severe weather can have on people with asthma.

By following six key steps, The Breathe Better in Extreme Weather campaign highlights how people can keep their asthma well controlled and stay safe during bush fires, heatwaves, dust storms, thunderstorms and flooding events. 

With experts predicting a particularly menacing and extreme weather season, Asthma Australia CEO Ms Michele Goldman said children and the elderly were particularly susceptible.

“Extreme weather events occur suddenly and increase exposure to a range of asthma triggers including dust, pollen and smoke and reduce air quality,” said Ms Goldman. 

“Stay vigilant with your asthma management and understand your triggers, follow your Asthma Action Plan and avoid exposure where possible,” she said. 

NSW Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said it was important for people to stay up to date and if their plan was to leave, to take medication with them.

“Check the NSW RFS website and social media, listen to local radio and look at the Fires Near Me app,” Deputy Commissioner Rogers said.

“Don’t call Triple Zero (OOO) just to report that it’s smoky, save Triple Zero for emergencies and to report unattended fires.”

Ms Goldman said with diverse and extreme weather events unfolding across the nation it was essential people took asthma seriously and knew how to administer asthma first aid.

“The life threatening bush fires and smoke plumes in Queensland is a terrible start to the season. We’ve already seen dust storms across the east coast, high pollen levels in the southern states and fires in New South Wales and Victoria have an impact on peoples’ asthma,” she said.

“It’s vital everyone knows asthma first aid.  You never know when you may be confronted with someone having an asthma flare-up,” she said.

In a survey conducted by Asthma Australia following bush fires in the Sydney area last year 60% of people or someone they cared for had adverse respiratory symptoms as a result of poor air quality.

The survey showed that many of these people were unaware the air quality had deteriorated until they saw smoke in the air. The resulting impact was that 59% of survey participants sought medical attention and were prescribe oral corticosteroids.

“Asthma is avoidable when the right supports are in place, but it can be deliberating and life threatening if it’s left unmanaged,” said Ms Goldman.

During the extreme weather season, people can learn more about how to breathe better in extreme weather by visiting

People with asthma and their loved ones are encouraged to know the four steps of asthma first aid and can download the Asthma First Aid App available on android and apple. 

People wanting to stay abreast of emergency information updates are encouraged to access their local warnings available at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology or tune into their local ABC Radio Station. 

For more information people can contact the free 1800 ASTHMA Helpline (1800 278 462) or visit 


Media contacts
Teresa Vella 07 3252 7677 | 0403 895 144

Michele Goldman CEO Asthma Australia is available for interview

Editors Notes
The 6-step asthma checklist for weather events: 
1. Take your preventer medication every day when well. Preventer medication can take time to take effect, so it’s important to take the preventative step of regularly taking your preventer medication. 
2. Ensure you have in date reliever mediation and keep this on hand. 
3. Follow your written Asthma Action Plan. If you don’t have a written Asthma Action Plan, visit your doctor to have one completed. 
4. Know the four steps for asthma first aid and what to do in an asthma emergency  
5. Where possible during extreme weather events, stay indoors with windows closed and avoiding exercise 
6. Keep up to date with emergency service alerts and advice in your local area 

About Asthma Australia
For over 50 years Asthma Australia has been the leader in asthma health care, research and support. Asthma Australia delivers evidence-based preventative health strategies to over 500,000 people every year and provides support, training and resources to the primary health care sector. The organisation funds vital basic science and population health research contributing to national and international understandings of asthma and how best to manage the disease.


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