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Smoke from a tyre fire


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This information has been prepared so that you know what to do to protect your health and the health of anyone in your care who may be exposed to smoke from a tyre fire.

For information about a specific fire or emergency incident, listen to your local emergency radio station for updates or visit www.emergency.vic.gov.au

If you are at the scene of an emergency, always follow the directions of emergency services, such as ambulance officers, police or fire services.

Key points about smoke from a tyre fire

  • Tyres are made of vulcanised rubber, steel and textiles. Tyre fires create large amounts of thick black smoke and can be difficult to put out.
  • Smoke from a tyre fire contains a number of substances, including fine particles, oxides of sulfur, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
  • If you do not need to be in the area, stay away from a tyre fire. If you live or work near the fire, avoid the smoke as much as possible. Stay indoors away from the smoke and reduce physical activity. Keep windows and doors closed.
  • For regular updates on what you should do, listen to your local emergency radio station or visit www.emergency.vic.gov.au
  • People with a heart or lung condition, including asthma, children (up to 14 years), pregnant women and people over 65 years of age are more sensitive to the effects of breathing in smoke.
  • If you have a heart or lung condition, take your medication as prescribed. Asthmatics should follow their personal asthma action plan and keep reliever medication on hand.
  • If you or anyone in your care is experiencing symptoms that may be due to smoke exposure, call NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 60 24 or seek medical advice.
  • Anyone experiencing difficulty breathing, wheezing or tightness in the chest should seek urgent medical assistance – call 000.

Further information

Vic Emergency

For more information about specific incidents and emergencies go to: www.emergency.vic.gov.au

Local emergency radio station

For current information about specific incidents and emergencies, listen to your local emergency radio station.

NURSE-ON-CALL

For immediate health advice from a registered nurse, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, call 1300 60 60 24.

Department of Health and Human Services

For more information on the health effects of smoke from a tyre fire, or rainwater tank water quality, call 1300 761 874 during business hours.

EPA Victoria

Information about air quality and other impacts of a fire on the environment is available from EPA Victoria on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC).

Local government

Contact your local council for advice about rainwater tank water quality.

 

Q&A on smoke from a tyre fire + Expand all Collapse all

  • What are tyres made of?

    Tyres are made of vulcanised rubber, steel and textiles.

    A tyre fire creates large amounts of thick black smoke and can be difficult to put out.

  • What is in smoke from a tyre fire?

    Smoke from a tyre fire:

    • can reduce air quality around the site and neighbouring areas
    • contains mainly fine particles, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and oxides of sulfur
    • also contains smaller amounts of metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), phenols, dioxins, chlorine and furans
    • should be avoided as much as possible.
  • How can smoke affect my health?

    How smoke affects your health depends on your age, whether you have an existing medical condition, how active you are in smoky conditions, what substances are in the smoke and how long you are exposed to the smoke.

    Smoke from a tyre fire can be irritating to the eyes, nose, throat and lungs.

    People with a heart or lung condition, including asthma, children (up to 14 years), pregnant women and people over 65 years of age are more sensitive to the effects of breathing in smoke.

    If you have a heart or lung condition, take your medication as prescribed.

    Asthmatics should follow their personal asthma action plan and keep reliever medication on hand.

    If you or anyone in your care experiences symptoms that may be due to smoke exposure, call NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 60 24 or seek medical advice.

    Call 000 if anyone is having difficulty breathing, or is experiencing wheezing or tightness in the chest.

  • What can I do to protect my health from smoke during a tyre fire?

    If you do not need to be in the area, stay away from a tyre fire.

    If you live or work close to the fire, avoid the smoke as much as possible by staying indoors until the fire is controlled or out. Keep windows and doors closed.

    Reduce physical activity, and if you have an existing heart or lung condition rest as much as possible.

    During a fire, listen to your local emergency radio station or visit www.emergency.vic.gov.au for updates on air quality and what you should do.

    If it is hot and you operate an air-conditioner, switch it to ‘recirculate’ or ‘reuse air’. This limits the amount of smoke particles coming inside.

    If your home is uncomfortable, and it is safe to do so, consider taking a break away from the smoke. Visit an area not affected by the smoke or visit a local air-conditioned building such as a library, community centre or shopping centre.

    If it is safe to do so, check on elderly neighbours or other people who you think might need extra help.

  • What about wearing a face mask?

    It is better to stay inside away from the smoke, unless you cannot avoid working outside.

    Ordinary paper dust masks, handkerchiefs or bandannas do not protect you from fine smoke particles or gases.

    Special face masks (P2 masks) provide better protection from breathing in fine smoke particles.

    Before deciding to use a P2 mask, note that:

    • they can be hot and uncomfortable to wear and make it harder to breathe normally
    • anyone with an existing heart or lung condition should seek medical advice before using one
    • they do not provide a close seal if someone has a beard
    • they are not designed for a child’s face
    • they do not protect you from gases such as carbon monoxide.
  • I am concerned about the health of my pets. What should I do?

    During smoky conditions, and if practical to do so, bring pets indoors with you.

    If you have any concerns about the health of your pets, consult your local vet.

  • Can I drink water from my rainwater tank?

    Drink reticulated water. If you have a rainwater tank and the water tastes, looks or smells unusual, do not use it for drinking, bathing or for pets.

    Contact the Environmental Health Officer at your local council or the Department of Health and Human Services for more information.

  • What should I do around the home?

    After the fire is controlled or out, open doors and windows to sunlight and fresh air, and air soft furnishings in the sunshine.

    Wipe down indoor surfaces with water. Wash any visible surface film with soap and water.

    If clothes were on the clothesline during smoky conditions, rewash them. If smoke is still present, dry clothes indoors or in a dryer.

Page last updated on 29 Dec 2017