North Coast Public Health Unit assistant director Greg Bell said people with conditions such as asthma, emphysema and heart conditions should stay indoors where possible.
North Coast Public Health Unit assistant director Greg Bell said people with conditions such as asthma, emphysema and heart conditions should stay indoors where possible. Scottie Simmonds

Health alert as smoke spreads

HEALTH authorities are warning people with respiratory conditions to take precautions as the blanket of smoke enveloping the Northern Rivers persists.

The haze is likely to remain for at least the next few days as locals burn off and as westerly winds continue to carry smoke from burn-offs near Tenterfield.

North Coast Public Health Unit assistant director Greg Bell said people with conditions such as asthma, emphysema and heart conditions should stay indoors where possible, stay with friends in non-smoke-affected areas, or visit places such as air conditioned shopping centres to avoid breathing the smoke.

Asthma sufferers should also avoid vigorous exercise.

If being outdoors is unavoidable the use of p1 or p2 dust masks, available from hardware stores or a wet handkerchief over the mouth is recommended.

Mr Bell said smoke carried tiny particles of organic compounds such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide that could get deep into people' s lungs, causing irritation in even the healthiest of people. It could also cause itchy, dry eyes and runny noses.

Mr Bell said asthma sufferers with shortness of breath or coughing should refer to their asthma action plan in the first instance, but contact their doctor or call triple 0 immediately if their asthma became severe or unmanageable.

Meanwhile, more than 100 burns continue to be conducted across the State this week, as agencies including the NSW Rural Fire Service, National Parks, Forests NSW, and private land owners take advantage of a period of ideal weather conditions and prepare for the coming bushfire season.

NSW Rural Fire Service Northern Rivers Superintendent Boyd Townsend said very little burning off occurred on the Northern Rivers last year because of the wet conditions.

He said it was always a balancing act, but it was essential the work was done when opportunities came along, as the region may be in for a hot dry summer.

"There's been some talk of a wet La Nina weather pattern returning for this summer, but we still need to presume we're heading into an average year, which means generally dry and not too much rain, and if last week's temperatures were any indication, fairly warm."

The NSW Rural Fire Service encourages people living near controlled burns to take precautions such as keeping doors and windows closed, removing washing from clotheslines and taking care if driving close to smoke-affected areas by slowing down and switching on headlights.

SMOKE ALERT

  • Asthma sufferers and those with respiratory conditions such as emphysema and heart conditions should:
  • Stay indoors where possible.
  • Stay with friends in non smoke affected areas or visit places such as air conditioned shopping centres.
  • Avoid vigorous exercise.
  • Use protective masks or a wet handkerchief over your mouth if necessary.
  • Contact your doctor if your condition becomes unmanageable.
  • If you are unable to avoid being outdoors, the use p1 or p2 dust masks, or a wet handkerchief over the mouth is recommended.


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