The North Coast Public Health Unit is advising people to take action to protect their health while smoke haze continues to affect air quality across the Port Macquarie region.
Fine smoke particles are known to affect the human breathing system. The smaller or finer the particles, the deeper they go into the lungs. Bushfire smoke can affect all people and generally causes mild irritation such as itchy or burning eyes, coughing and a runny nose. These symptoms generally disappear in usually healthy people once the smoke disappears.
If staff members or students have existing heart conditions, lung conditions, such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema or asthma, it is important that they have their medications handy at all times. Symptoms can occur for several days after this smoke is inhaled, so anyone with the above conditions needs to be vigilant with their treatment programs.
It is best that staff and students do not use ordinary paper dust masks, handkerchiefs or bandannas as these do not filter out fine particles from bushfire smoke and are generally not very useful in protecting your lungs – they may make it harder for people to breath normally. When the smoke is visibly bad, it is better to stay indoors.
The following precautions may help to minimise the adverse effects of the smoke:
- Avoid vigorous activities and, importantly, try to avoid these activities completely when it is smoky especially if you have asthma, lung conditions or heart conditions;
- If your doctor has prescribed medications, keep them with you at all times
- Consider staying indoors when the smoke is visibly bad. Close the windows and doors and if needed, use an air conditioner set on the recycle air setting to reduce smoke entering rooms.
- Consider postponing outdoor events such as athletic carnivals or sports days when the smoke is visibly bad.