Department of Health

Chief Health Officer advice for storms or unstable weather

Published by Department of Health & Human Services

The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast the possibility of thunderstorms across Gippsland and parts of the north east ranges this afternoon, sparking a call for vigilance from Victoria's Chief Health Officer, Professor Charles Guest.

And the thunderstorms may be severe in the far eastern ranges.

"People with asthma should always carry their inhaler or reliever," Prof Guest said.

"They should ensure these are always close at hand, in the car, at work, at home, as it isn't always possible to predict changing weather conditions requiring medication.

"People with a history of asthma, hayfever or allergies are at particular risk of asthma symptoms.

"When there is a thunderstorm or severe weather warning in spring or summer, staying indoors with windows closed and in air conditioned areas will reduce exposure to pollen," Prof Guest said.

People experiencing asthma like symptoms for the first time should visit their doctor for advice and if appropriate develop an asthma management plan.

In the case of an acute asthma attack, as always, an ambulance may be needed.

An asthma attack can be life threatening.

Anyone experiencing wheezing, chest tightness and difficulty breathing should call 000.

Storms or unstable weather conditions can sometimes trigger an asthma attack or other respiratory conditions.

"Thunderstorms, combined with pollen in the air, can cause an increase in asthma symptoms, hay fever and breathing difficulties," Prof Guest said.

Quick asthma facts*:

  • Asthma can usually be controlled with effective clinical care, appropriate medication, and by following a written asthma action plan.
  • In 2015, asthma caused the deaths of 421 Australians - down from a peak of 964 in 1989.
  • Every asthma death is a tragedy, and people of all ages must continue to take asthma extremely seriously.
  • 1 in 10 Australians have asthma -- around 2.3 million.
  • It's more common in males aged 0--14, but among those aged 15 and over, asthma is more common in females.

* Data from Asthma Foundation VictoriaExternal Link

Reviewed 30 November 2016


Contact details

Bram Alexander Department of Health Media Unit

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