High temperatures and smoke from bushfires can be a deadly combination for vulnerable community members, according to NSW Ambulance Service Illawarra zone manager Paul Tonge.
Calls for people suffering heat distress or exhaustion and respiratory problems have started to escalate with the onset of hot days and bushfires across the state.
‘‘The issue with bushfires is that you get very fine particles in the smoke that can be problematic for different groups of patients, especially those with chronic lung conditions such as emphysema and asthma,’’ Mr Tonge said.
‘‘It can also be problematic for people with heart conditions, as well as for the very old and the very young.’’
Mr Tonge urged people in those groups to stay indoors, close all windows and doors, and turn on airconditioning if available.
He urged people to avoid physical activity outdoors when there was smoke and high temperatures.
‘‘People are creatures of habit and if they usually mow the lawn or garden on a Saturday afternoon, then they’ll do it regardless of the weather,’’ he said. ‘‘But we would encourage people to put off these rigorous activities until it’s cooler and there is less air pollution.’’
Mr Tonge said smoke inhalation could cause people with respiratory conditions to have difficulty breathing and to experience wheezing, sore throats, runny noses and irritated eyes.
‘‘People with chronic lung conditions and asthma usually have an action plan in place, but if they find they are experiencing an unusual level of distress or difficulty in breathing they need to call triple-0,’’ he said.
Symptoms of heat distress included hot, flushed skin, dry mouth and slight dizziness.
‘‘People need to get out of direct sunlight and cool down, drink plenty of water to keep hydrated and stay indoors if possible,’’ Mr Tonge said. ‘‘Call triple-0 if symptoms progress.’’
Those caring for the elderly or the very young needed to practise commonsense.