With the large fire that started this morning in Christchurch, Canterbury DHB is reminding people to phone their GP team first if they experience any respiratory issues or concerns.
Dr Cheryl Brunton, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, says that in the immediate vicinity of the fire and downwind there is a lot of smoke in the air and that people should avoid it if they can.
"Avoiding exposure to the smoke is the best advice right now. If you live nearby or downwind of the smoke plume, stay indoors and close windows. Don't use air conditioning or ventilation that will draw smoke into your home or car.
"Smoke may irritate the eyes, nose, throat and airways. More serious symptoms include runny or sore eyes, a dry or sore throat or a sore nose, a cough, tightness of the chest or difficulty breathing. Canterbury DHB is reminding people who experience these symptoms or other respiratory issues to contact their own GP team first for advice 24/7 – even after hours a nurse is ready to take your call. They can tell you what to do and where to go if you need to be seen urgently."
In an emergency always phone 111.
"Most people are very unlikely to have any long-term health effects from smoke. However, people with pre-existing respiratory illness or heart disease may experience a worsening or recurrence of their condition. Cigarette smokers, the elderly, children and those with heart disease, asthma or other lung disease are at greatest risk of harm from smoke inhalation. "
"Seek medical help if your symptoms worsen, especially if you have asthma, lung or heart disease, or if you start to experience breathlessness or chest pain."
Dr Brunton is also encouraging people to remember to look out for their neighbours, especially the elderly or those with disabilities and make sure they're ok.
"One of Canterbury's strengths in an emergency is that we look out for, and take care of each other."
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