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Staying safe in the smoke

January 7, 2020

The smoke from bushfires across Victoria and New South Wales continues to drift across Melbourne.

Even looking at this week's CBD skyline, is a reminder that our country is undergoing extreme challenges.

For those fortunate to be out of the fire zones, there is still a health risk to consider from the smoke in the air.

If you need to reschedule an appointment due to the conditions, please do so. You can contact our Outpatient Bookings team on 9929 8500. 

While healthy people can manage brief exposure, smoke can:

  • trigger asthma
  • affect or worsen heart disease
  • reduce visibility and road safety
  • cause dry eyes, coughs and sore throats

Smoke is a particular risk for:

  • those with heart or lung conditions (particularly asthma)
  • pregnant women
  • young children
  • the elderly

When it’s smoky outside, you should:

  • stay inside if you can
  • avoid extreme exercise
  • keep windows and doors shut
  • switch your air conditioner to ‘recirculate’
  • take a break from the smoke in a large air-conditioned location, like a library or a shopping centre
  • look out for children, older people, and others at risk
  • keep pets and pet bedding inside 
  • follow your treatment plan if you have a heart or lung condition
  • follow your asthma action plan
  • see your local GP or contact NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 606 024 if you’re worried about your symptoms
  • call 000 if you experience chest tightness or difficulty breathing.

The bushfires may also impact our health because we are witnessing people and animals suffering across the nation, which can be traumatic and stressful. The Better Health Channel has a useful podcast by trauma experts Dr Rob Gordon and Anne Leadbeater that discusses coping with trauma in the context of bushfires. Listen here.

If you are feeling traumatised and in immediate crisis, please call Lifeline 13 11 14. 

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