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Respiratory health warning over Port Hills fire – Asthma and Respiratory Foundation

Kiwis living with a respiratory condition near Port Hills in Christchurch are being urged to take precautions to protect themselves from exposure to the billowing smoke.

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ is advising residents near the blaze – and in the wider Christchurch region – to close all windows and doors if staying inside, or wear a N95 or KN95 mask if going outside.

Foundation Medical Director Dr James Fingleton says these steps offer the best protection against the harmful effects of smoke inhalation.

“Inhaling smoke from fires can pose serious risks for respiratory health, especially for vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and individuals with pre-existing health conditions.

“It can severely exacerbate conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and trigger flare-ups, which can be serious and lead to hospitalisation.” Dr Fingleton says.

“It’s imperative for everyone to recognise these risks, understand how to manage them, and actively reduce their exposure.”

Smoke contains tiny particles that enters the throat and lungs causing irritation, Dr Fingleton says.

“That is why it is important that people with asthma or COPD keep their reliever inhaler on-hand if they start to develop symptoms.”

Research shows that a N95 (or KN95) mask offers the best protection against smoke from wild fires.

“If fitted and worn correctly, the N95 mask filters out 95% of particles, significantly reducing the risk of those particles getting into your lungs,” Dr Fingleton says.

“Cloth masks and surgical masks do not provide that same level of protection.”

It is also recommended that all people with respiratory conditions keep necessary medications on hand when going out with the smoke in circulation, he says.

 

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