Last updated on 18/09/2019

South Australia: With most of the state bracing for turbulent weather tomorrow (Thursday 19 September), Asthma Australia is advising people with asthma, their schools and workplaces to take extra precaution, saying it’s a ‘cocktail’ of asthma triggers.  

With 13% of South Australians living with asthma, including a large population of children, tomorrow’s weather will present a challenging day. 

People with asthma and those around them need to take necessary steps now to stay safe,” says Jo Willams, General Manager of Programs and Policy at Asthma Australia.  

As advised by the State Emergency Service and SA Health at a press conference today, damaging winds, raised dust and a cold front sweeping across the state at about midday with rain to follow will be problematic for those with respiratory conditions including asthma. People with asthma should avoid exposure where possible.  

Asthma Australia furthermore advises that any available pollen will be circulated in gusty winds and people with hay fever and asthma will be affected as well as those sensitive to changes in temperature, dust and humidity.  Conditions should stabilise by the weekend.  

Asthma is serious and can escalate into life-threatening episodes if left unmanaged.  

The following advice is being issued to people with asthma, their schools and workplaces.    

Advice to people with asthma and their carers: Be protected

Even while on asthma preventer medication asthma can flare-up, including mild asthma. People are more at risk of severe flare-ups if preventer medications aren’t taken as prescribed.  People with hay fever and asthma should take extra precaution on windy days and ensure they are managing hay fever symptoms alongside their asthma.  

  1. Where possible during extreme weather events, stay indoors with windows and doors closed and avoid exercise.  Seeking refuge in a building with recycled air conditioning can help. 
  2. Ensure you have an in-date reliever and keep this on hand. Remember there are 200 doses in each canister. Using a spacer makes this more effective. 
  3. Make sure you and your loved one or carer knows the four steps of asthma first aid and what to do in an asthma emergency  
  4. Keep up to date with weather alerts and advice in your local area 
  5. Speak with your employer or school about your asthma and ways they can help you manage it. 
  6. In the event of a flare-up, follow your written Asthma Action Plan. If you don’t have a written Asthma Action Plan, visit your doctor to have one completed. This is proven to help. 
  7. If asthma symptoms don’t improve, call Triple 0 in the case of an emergency. 
  8. Take your preventer medication every day when well. Preventer medication can take time to take effect, so it’s important to take the preventative step of regularly taking your preventer medication.

Advice to schools: Be vigilant

  1. Allow children and young people at risk of an asthma flare-up to stay inside (with windows and doors closed) or avoid outdoor activities if pollen count is high and on dusty days.  Air conditioners should be used under these circumstances to filter the air inside. 
  2. If physical activity or outdoor activities are planned, provide an alternate for children and young people particularly when they are feeling unwell 
  3. Ensure staff have emergency asthma medication on hand particularly while on playground duty and are trained in asthma first aid. Free asthma first aid training is available on Asthma Australia’s website.   
  4. Be mindful that parents may keep children with asthma at home from school.  

Advice to workplaces:  Be aware

  1. Encourage staff to familarise themselves with risks, plans and first aid measures.  
  2. Ensure they have an asthma reliever on hand, available at their place of work such as their desk.  
  3. Help staff members to reduce their exposure to triggers, this may include working from home (avoid the commute); alternative duties that are indoors; using sick leave.   
  4. Maintaining staff health is more productive in the long term, workplaces can undertake training via Asthma Australia’s website 

For further information visit Asthma Australia’s webpage and click triggers.  For direct support, you can speak with an Asthma Educator on 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462).