Important numbers

000 – Ambulance, police or fire

1800 022 222 - Healthdirect
Health advice available 24 hours a day

132 500 - State Emergency Service (SES)

Replacement medicine and prescriptions

Pharmacists may be able to help replace medicines or  prescriptions. Speak with your local pharmacy, GP or call Healthdirect on 1800 022 222

Mental health support for affected communities

1800 011 511 - Mental Health Line.
Press ‘Option 1’ to be transferred to your nearest community mental health drug and alcohol service.

If you need support, there are a number of services you can access for free.  If you're not sure, see When should I ask for mental health support?. Also available in multiple languages.

If you are in an area affected by bushfires, listen to the instructions given by emergency services personnel. Important messages are often played on the radio. 

Smoky air

Bush fires can result in a large amount of smoke particles in the air, even great distances from the fires. The best way to avoid breathing in the smoke is to remain inside with the windows and doors closed, preferably in an air-conditioned building.

Protect yourself from bushfire smoke.

Signs and symptoms of smoke irritation

  • itchy/burning eyes
  • runny nose
  • shortness of breath
  • headaches
  • irritated sinuses
  • throat irritation
  • cough

If you are having trouble breathing, go to an emergency department or ring triple zero (000) for an ambulance.

Smoke pollution can affect people for many days after it is inhaled. People with existing lung conditions, such as asthma, may experience an exacerbation of their symptoms and should prepared to activate their Asthma (or COPD) Action Plan.

Managing medications

  • If you do not have your Medicare, DVA or Centrelink card or have lost your medication due to bushfires, speak to a pharmacist. In many circumstances, they will be able to provide additional supply.
  • In accordance with emergency supply provisions, you can receive a 3 day supply of many medications without a prescription. Speak to your pharmacist.
  • If you require an urgent supply of oral contraceptives or cholesterol lowering medicine (statins), pharmacists can dispense a single PBS quantity to you, consistent with continued dispensing guidelines.

Information for community pharmacists

Treating burns

Whatever the depth of a burn, the initial treatment is always the same:

  1. remove any clothing or jewellery near the affected area
  2. place the burn under cool running water for at least 20 minutes.

Do not use ice or iced water and take care not to induce hypothermia (low body temperature) - keep the person warm.

All large burns (greater than the size of a 20c piece), partial-thickness burns (painful, blistered and weeping) and full-thickness burns (painless, white and potentially waxy or charred-looking) require urgent medical assessment. To protect the burned area after cooling with running water, lay a sheet of cling film over it. Do not wrap cling film all the way around a limb.

All burns affecting the face or neck require urgent medical assessment. All burns that cross a joint or that completely encircle a digit (finger or toe) or limb also require urgent assessment.

Small, epidermal burns (less than the size of a 20c piece) may be treated at home. An epidermal burn is one that only affects the top layer of skin. It will be red and painful, but the skin will be intact, with no weeping or blistering. Covering the burn with a layer of cling film after cooling will protect the area and may reduce the pain. Do not burst any blisters that develop. If the burn is very painful, or seems to be getting worse, seek medical attention.

Drinking water

Power and water may be cut off during a bushfire. Your bushfire survival kit should include plenty of drinking water (at least three litres per person per day). Ensure you drink plenty of water so you do not dehydrate. For more information see the Rural Fire Service Bushfire Survival Plan.

More information

For support and information about air quality, how to reduce exposure to smoke and return home safely after a bushfire, visit:

Bushfire response and recovery

Current as at: Tuesday 4 April 2023