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Advice for Sydney-siders affected by smoky conditions and asthma

29 May 2018

The smoky conditions in Sydney today due to local hazard reduction burns have highlighted the impact of poor air quality on respiratory health, and in particular the consequences for people with asthma.

Smoke is a common trigger for asthma and so it is important to stay informed and take what measures you can to stay safe. Asthma Australia advises:

  • Stay on top of asthma management year-round as this reduces the risk of severe flare ups when exposed to asthma triggers. This includes taking preventer medication regularly as prescribed.
  • Ensure you have a written Asthma Action Plan that includes what to do in smoky conditions, follow the steps on your plan and ensure you have reliever medication with you at all times – but especially in smoky conditions.
  • Wherever possible limit time spent outdoors during smoky periods, and avoid physical exertion such as sport or manual work outdoors.
  • When inside keep doors and windows closed. Where possible set air conditioning to recycle.
  • Stay informed about conditions. You can subscribe to alerts from the Office of Environment and Heritage and information on fires is available via the Rural Fire Service.
  • Ensure you know the Asthma First Aid steps – to help yourself or a person with asthma.

Michele Goldman, CEO of Asthma Australia said:

“Days like today show that we need to come together with all the agencies involved including health, environment and fire services and work out how we can do this better.

This is a complex issue but we have to balance the need for fire hazard reduction with the consequences on public health of planned burns.

We need to work together on reducing poor air quality events and their impacts. In order to minimise the risk of smoke for people with asthma, a co-ordinated early warning system for alerts to the public is clearly a key factor. We need to develop a system using the media, digital and mobile technology to make this happen.

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