How to manage smoke and the after effects of fire in the environment:

Smoke inhalation is a real risk with the current bushfires all around us.  On top of the present risk, there is also the increased risk from stress, to people at present, as well as ongoing risk to unborn children, and to young children living through the fires.  

Whilst for those fighting fires, it will be impossible to avoid smoke, where possible, consider the following suggestions for helping stay well:

If you must be outside:

  • Use the P2/N95 masks (available from Bunnings or Officeworks) as the normal paper / dust masks are not effective for smoke.
  • In the car, keep the windows closed and rather than using the air con to bring air in, keep it on recirculate.

When you come back to your house:

  • Take off your outdoor clothes and leave them in a mudroom, or outer portion of the house, particularly if you have been fighting fires, to avoid bring the smoke inside. 
  • Block gaps under doors with a towel, and cover windows with mesh openings.
  • For sore eyes, after showering, try a cold tea bag (black tea, or chamomile – after you make a cup of tea, put the teabag aside or in the fridge) and place on your eyelids for a soothing way to cool hot irritated eyes and eyelids.
  • Cleanse your sinuses using a bulb syringe with saline, or a neti pot.  Steam inhalations can also help.  
  • Consider an air filter, particularly for bedrooms.  The high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters can be effective, but if you can’t get these, ultrasonic vaporisers  used with essential oils (such as lavender, chamomile and rosemary) can support respiratory health
  • Stay indoors as much as possible, closing all windows and doors, and don’t use air conditioning which will bring the outside air in.  

Things to avoid:

  • Unnecessary outdoor activities, exercise or other exertion outdoors.
  • Vacuuming, in case this adds to the burden of increased dust in the air.
  • Animals outside.  Keep them inside as much as possible.  

Dietary support:

  • Drink water.  Drink more than you think you need, as the dry conditions are dehydrating, beyond thirst.  
  • Fruit, particularly those which will help with hydration and soothing:  watermelon, pineapple, rockmelon, berries, plums and other stone fruit.

Nutrients and supplements:

  • Vitamin C, zinc, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), alpha-lipoid acid (ALA), vitamin E, resveratrol for anti-oxidant action and repair of tissue damage.
  • Essential fatty acids (EFA) as fish oils, turmeric (curcumin) as anti-inflammatory support.
  • There are a variety of herbs for stress and respiratory support – please see me in clinic to discuss the best methods and mix of these, for your particular needs.  

The ongoing burden from stress of this type is yet to be assessed, but if you have been living with the stress of fire and smoke, please see a health professional for help with stress.  Additionally, any pregnant women or those with young children need to be particularly mindful of the effect of stress, and consider additional nutritional supplementation to counteract the harmful consequences.  Please see me in clinic to discuss this further.  


8 Jan 2020.

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