Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) will deploy monitors to Sale and Longford in Gippsland to provide the local community and emergency service workers with up to date information on how smoke from the Rosedale bushfire is affecting air quality.
A bushfire south of Rosedale is generating significant quantities of smoke which could have detrimental impacts especially on people already suffering respiratory problems, the very old and the very young.
EPA expects the monitoring units to be in place shortly and information will be available via the EPA’s AirWatch website.
At least one unit will come from the VICSES Bairnsdale Unit under a scheme launched in 2017 to give greater speed and mobility in responding to air quality issues created by bushfires.
Advice on bushfire smoke
EPA is warning Victorians that smoky conditions are a threat to people’s health, even far away from the bushfires that create the smoke.
Smoke is especially dangerous to vulnerable groups in the community, but there are measures you can take to protect your health.
Any smoke can be hazardous, but summer bushfires produce large amounts of it, and it’s not uncommon for it to affect communities a hundred or more kilometres away.
Smoky conditions are particularly hazardous to people with asthma and other lung conditions, those with heart conditions, smokers, children under 14, adults over 65 and pregnant women.
The emergency services, including EPA and the Department of Health and Human Services, issue warnings whenever smoke is a threat to people’s health, and it’s important that you take action to protect yourself and your family.
EPA’s website offers advice on protecting your health in smoky conditions, as well as links to the State Government sites that provide official emergency warnings. You can find EPA’s Smoke page at www.epa.vic.gov.au/your-environment/air/smoke
Signs of short term smoke irritation such as itchy eyes, sore throat, runny nose and coughing usually clear up in healthy adults once you’re away from the smoke.
People with pre-existing conditions, including asthmatics, should take their medication, follow their treatment plan and seek immediate medical advice if symptoms such as breathing issues, wheezing or tightness in the chest persist.
Make sure you also look out for elderly neighbours and relatives, those with disabilities or mobility issues, too.
When smoky conditions set in, even healthy adults are advised to limit prolonged or heavy physical activity outdoors, stay inside if possible, switch air-conditioners to recirculate or reuse air, or take a break in a building where the air conditioning filters the air, such as most shopping centres or large public buildings, if it is safe to do so, particularly where you notice smoke in your home.
If you are experiencing any symptoms that may be due to smoke exposure, seek medical advice or call NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 60 24. Anyone experiencing wheezing, chest tightness and difficulty breathing should call 000.
The important thing is to remain aware of the conditions and take action if you or your family are exposed to smoky conditions.
For warnings on air quality, check EPA’s AirWatch website at www.epa.vic.gov.au/our-work/monitoring-the-environment/epa-airwatch
For the latest on bushfires and other emergencies, check the Vic Emergency website at http://emergency.vic.gov.au/respond
For more general information about bushfire smoke and health, go to www.health.vic.gov.au/environment/bushfires.htm