Bushfires are creating smoky conditions across much of NSW that may continue for some time. Smoke can affect people’s health and it is important for everyone to reduce exposure.
Check the air quality for your region and subscribe to updates using the Air Quality Index (AQI)then check AQI and activity guide for what the AQI means and what activities you can do.
Steps to decrease risk from bushfire smoke
Follow your doctor’s advice about medicines and your asthma management plan if you have one. Keep your medication close at hand. Consult your doctor if symptoms worsen.
Monitor air quality and follow health messages. Air quality information and health messages are available at NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment - Air Quality Index (AQI) data.
Avoid vigorous outdoor activity.
Spend more time indoors. Keep doors and windows shut to keep the smoke out. Open windows and doors whenever the smoke clears.
Spend time in air conditioned venues like cinemas, libraries and shopping centres.
Avoid indoor sources of air pollution like cigarettes, candles and incense sticks.
Who is at greater risk from bushfire smoke?
- People with heart disease, or lung diseases like asthma and emphysema.
- Older adults, because they are more likely to have heart or lung disease.
- Children, because they have developing airways and breathe more air relative to their body weight.
- Pregnant women, because they may be more sensitive to the effects of smoke.
Using air purifiers and face masks to reduce risk from bushfire smoke
Air purifiers or face masks can also be used to reduce exposure to smoke.
Air purifiers with a high efficiency particle air (HEPA) filter are able to reduce the number of fine particles indoors. To work well, the air purifier must be matched to the size of the room it is in and the room must be well sealed.
Humidifiers, negative ion generators and odour absorbers do not remove fine particles in bushfire smoke.
- Surgical and cloth masks don’t protect against smoke.
- P2/N95 rated face masks can filter out the fine particles in smoke.
- Wearing a P2/N95 face mask can make it harder to breathe and increase the risk of heat-related illness.
- If you have a heart or lung condition, consult your doctor before using one.
- If you have difficulty breathing, feel dizzy, faint or have other symptoms while wearing a face mask. remove it and go to place with cleaner air quality.
For information about fitting a P2/N95 mask, please refer to How to fit a P2 mask.