Bushfire and recovery information for parents

Large parts of NSW are being affected by bushfires and the recovery effort may continue for some time. Children are more vulnerable to the effects of smoke because they spend more time outdoors engaged in physical activity, have developing airways and breathe more air relative to their body weight.

It is important to think about ways to reduce their exposure. Children with asthma may be more sensitive to smoke.

Steps to decrease risk from bushfire smoke

Face masks – P2/N95 rated face masks can filter out the fine particles in smoke. However, they are not designed to fit children. For more information on P2 masks and children, read the Frequently asked questions.

Children with asthma

If your child has diagnosed asthma:

  • Provide your child’s preschool, childcare centre or school with up to date written asthma first aid instructions, completed by your child’s GP i.e. The NSW Health Schools and Child Services Action Plan for Asthma Flare Up.
  • Leave your child’s reliever medication and spacer with staff at your child’s preschool, childcare centre or school and check that it is in-date.
  • Have an up to date individual Asthma Action Plan for your child. Seek review with your child’s GP to assess their current asthma management.

The Sydney Children’s Hospital Network provides a range of resources for parents on its Aiming for Asthma Improvement in Children website including a Good asthma control checklist.

Mental health support

Emergencies and disasters are extremely stressful and it is normal for children, even infants, to be affected. They depend on the adults around them for safety and security, and will need reassurance, care, and opportunities to share their feelings. This includes children in areas under immediate threat, through to children in areas in recovery after having experienced bushfires.

Emerging Minds leads the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health under the National Support for Child and Youth Mental Health Program. The Emerging Minds Community Trauma Toolkit provides a starting point for you to help your children and teenagers navigate the different stages of a disaster.

The Kids Helpline is a free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25 years. Call 1800 551 800 or visit www.kidshelpline.com.au

Current as at: Monday 22 May 2023
Contact page owner: Environmental Health