St John issues bushfire health warning

Press Release

Due to the ongoing bushfire emergencies continuing across the State, St John is issuing an urgent health warning for those people in around fire effected areas.

St John CEO Michelle Fyfe warned that smoke haze can cause adverse health issues and we are asking people to please try to avoid exposure to smoke where possible.”

“Many of these areas are also experiencing high temperatures so we also suggest taking precautions to avoid experiencing heat related health complications, Ms Fyfe said.

“Particularly vulnerable to these conditions are the elderly, very young, pregnant women and people with pre-existing respiratory and heart conditions.

“Across the fire effected areas throughout WA, St John has set up First Aid posts to ensure we are available to attend to any medical or health related issue being experienced by emergency services or members of the public.

“St John’s Specialist Service paramedics are supporting DFES aboard the heavy rescue helicopter which is on standby for treatment and retrieval of firefighters operating in the fire zone,” Ms Fyfe said.

“If you are stranded along the Eyre Highway and are feeling unwell or have any health concerns please seek help from the nearest St John first aid post or if it is a life threatening emergency call 000 immediately.”

For others near fire zones, the risks and short-term health effects from exposure to smoke haze can be reduced by taking some simple precautions, for example:

  • Switch off air conditioners that do not allow outside air intake to be turned off
  • Shut doors and windows
  • Stay inside if possible – particularly people with asthma and other respiratory conditions
  • Be alert to heat stress; drink plenty of fluids of any kind except for alcoholic drinks
  • People with asthma and pre-existing respiratory, cardiovascular illnesses or diabetes should be vigilant and follow their pre-prepared action/treatment plan
  • Limit or forego outdoor exercise
  • Seek refuge from smoke in air-conditioned public buildings
  • Look out for elderly neighbours or other people at risk

To help avoid heat-related illness:

  • Drink plenty of water and fluids, thirst is a late sign of dehydration.
  • Stay out of the heat and direct sunlight where possible, do not leave children or others in vehicles.
  • If you are exposed to the outdoor elements, use plenty of sunscreen, cover up and wear a hat.
  • Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing and stay in a cool or shaded location.
  • Drink plenty of fluids: water and avoid high sugary drinks, caffeine and alcohol as these leads to increased fluid loss.
  • Use a water bottle, or a wet cloth, to cool your face and body.

“As a community, it is times like this that we must all come together and look after each other,” Ms Fyfe said.

“St John will continue to work closely with other emergency services to maintain community safety,” Ms Fyfe said.

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