Asthma & Bushfire Smoke
Bushfire smoke and smoke from prescribed burning activities can be a major trigger for people with asthma and other respiratory conditions. It’s important to be prepared and know how to respond if you are exposed to smoke.
Prescribed burning happens across South Australia, by the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, to reduce bushfire risk, manage native plants, and protect biodiversity in our parks and reserves.
This generally takes place in autumn and spring, and only on certain days when conditions are suitable. In parts of the state, depending on seasonal conditions, burns can also happen at other times of the year. Presence of smoke from prescribed burns, generally, is in shorter duration than that of bushfires. To minimise the impact on people’s health and wellbeing during prescribed burns, consideration is given to the amount of smoke that will be produced, and the direction and area it will cover.
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What do I do?
Tips to stay safe and well if there is bushfire smoke in your area:
- Stay indoors when there is smoke (unless you are advised to evacuate); close all windows and doors and block air vents.
- If you have an air conditioner, use it - set it to recycle, at home and in the car.
- Avoid doing physical activity outdoors while smoke is around.
- Continue using your asthma preventer medication as prescribed by your doctor.
- Always have your asthma reliever medication (blue/grey puffer) with you, and use it as soon as you get symptoms - to prevent them from getting worse. If available, use a spacer as it helps get more medication into your lungs.
- If your asthma reliever medication isn’t working, or needed 2-3 hourly or more, seek urgent medical advice by calling 000 for an ambulance.
- If you don’t have your asthma medication with you, or you can’t access your house to get it, your community pharmacy can provide emergency asthma medication even if you don’t have a script or money to pay for it.
- Older people, children, and those working at the fire front are most at risk, so be aware and if you notice someone having trouble access help fast.
- If you don’t have an Asthma Action Plan, or are unsure what to do in an asthma emergency, follow the Asthma First Aid procedure.
Download our Asthma & Bushfire Smoke brochure - complete with useful contact numbers and Asthma First Aid (PDF 475.8KB)
Contact the Asthma Helpline
Got a question about asthma? Please complete the form below to email us your questions and one of our Asthma Helpline team will get back to you as soon as they can. If you'd rather speak to someone directly, you can also call 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462) during business hours.
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Article Last Reviewed: 13 Dec 2016 | Article Updated: 13 Dec 2016