WITH current bushfire conditions in the Far North resulting in very poor air quality, Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service has issued a warning to the region’s residents about increased health risks.
Tropical Public Health Services director Dr Richard Gair advised the community to remain alert to the health hazards of smoke from current bushfire conditions.
“Smoke can cause itchy eyes, sore throat, runny nose, coughing, and worsen pre-existing conditions like asthma and bronchitis,” Dr Gair said.
“Most healthy adults usually feel better once they leave a smoky environment.
“If you have a pre-existing condition like heart disease, lung condition, or asthma, be extra careful.
“To reduce the risk of smoke irritation, stay indoors and keep your windows and doors closed.”
Dr Gair said it was especially important for vulnerable people to remain vigilant in the current conditions.
“Anyone with pre-existing conditions mentioned above should follow the treatment plan advised by their doctor and keep at least five days’ supply of medication at hand,” he said.
“Some locations have cleaner, filtered air e.g., shopping centres, community centres and libraries.
“All air conditioners should be switched to ‘recycle’ or ‘recirculate’ mode – if you do not have an air conditioner, take steps to reduce heat stress, especially for the very young people, or the elderly.”
Dr Gair said if there was a break in smoky conditions, people should take the opportunity to air out their home to improve indoor air quality and minimise other sources of air pollution, such as cigarette smoke.
“Schools and childcare centres should consider ceasing outdoor activities and children should stay indoors in areas with air-conditioning and/or ceiling fans,” he said.
“Organisers of outdoor events, if possible, should consider postponing the event until air quality improves.
“If you are experiencing any adverse reactions to the dust or smoke, such as shortness of breath, prolonged coughing or wheezing, seek medical advice.
Keep up to date on the latest bushfire activity by checking the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services website for bushfire updates.