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Tips for Safeguarding Against Smoke Haze During Bushfire Season

Above average rainfall increases the risk of bushfires in Australia. Health organizations and fire services are urging Australians to take care of themselves and be aware of the extra pollutants in the air during hazard-reduction burns. Controlled burning has already begun in preparation for the upcoming bushfire season, which starts on October 1 and brings forth warm and dry conditions that heighten the risk of fires. While this may be an inconvenience for some, it poses serious health risks for those with lung conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Exposure to smoke, which releases fine particles and toxic gases into the air during a bushfire, can have short-term and long-term impacts on their health. Fine particles known as PM2.5 can enter the lungs, bloodstream, and body, impair lung function, worsen existing health issues, and even lead to lung cancer and other serious conditions. It can also affect individuals with heart disease or who have had a stroke. The Lung Foundation Australia recommends checking real-time air quality, paying attention to air pollution alerts, reducing outdoor activities, using face masks, resting more often, attending regular health check-ups, avoiding main roads or rush hours, using air conditioning in recycle or recirculate mode, ensuring medication is topped up and not expired, having an emergency plan in place, and seeking help from a health professional if experiencing severe symptoms. Due to increased fuel growth caused by above-average rainfall in recent years, many regions in Australia, particularly central and northern New South Wales, face an increased risk of bushfires in the upcoming spring season. The Rural Fire Service advises individuals to trim overhanging trees, remove flammable materials, clear debris from gutters, and prepare hoses as preventive measures. Homeowners are urged to take steps now to prepare for the season, including reducing vegetation around properties, cleaning gutters, and having a fire plan in place.

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