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Free smoke reduction masks

By Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Deniliquin and district residents seems to be heeding the health warnings about the smoke haze, with only one reported case of someone seeking assistance at Deniliquin Hospital.

Deniliquin NSW Ambulance paramedics say they have received no calls for respiratory issues since the smoke cover has been impacting the local area.

Despite the low numbers, health authorities say we should not become complacent about the health risks.

For most people, smoke causes mild symptoms like sore eyes, nose and throat. 

However, people with conditions like asthma, emphysema and angina are at greater risk because the smoke can trigger their symptoms.

Murrumbidgee Local Health District director of public health Tracey Oakman said the fire emergency engulfing many parts of the country means the smoke that is currently affecting many communities may not lift for some time. 

‘‘If possible, stay in air conditioned premises where filtration systems can help to reduce dust particles in the air, and avoid outdoor physical activity,’’ she said.

‘‘If you are on home oxygen treatment, continue as prescribed and if breathlessness worsens, contact your GP.

‘‘People with asthma should carry their reliever medication with them at all times.

‘‘If you develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, or wheezing, follow your Asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Action Plan.’’

If the symptoms do not settle,  see your GP. In case of emergency, go to your nearest hospital emergency department, or call 000.

Free smoke protective face masks are available from your local hospital.

These face masks may be helpful for people returning to their properties in burned areas or for people whose only option is to work outside. 

Wherever possible, people should avoid smoke by staying indoors with the windows and doors shut and minimise vigorous exercise outdoors. 

P2 masks can reduce the amount of smoke inhaled but will only do so if used properly and a good fit is achieved.  Ask when collecting if you are unsure how to fit it correctly. 

P2 masks can make it more difficult for people with a pre-existing heart and/or lung condition to breathe. Talk to your doctor to see if a P2 mask is suitable for you.

For more information about how to protect yourself from bushfire smoke visit www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/air/Pages/bushfire-protection.aspx.