Sydneysiders have been told by authorities to “stay indoors” to avoid the haze brought on by bushfires that continue to rage across New South Wales.
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment also issued a poor air quality forecast alert while NSW Health advised people to take precautions as poor air quality is expected.
“The best way to reduce exposure to smoke is to stay indoors with the doors and windows shut,” said NSW Health Director of Environmental Health, Dr Richard Broome.
“Air conditioning can also help to filter particles from indoor air.”
Dr Boome said fine particles in smoke can irritate the respiratory system and aggravate existing lung and heart conditions, and those with asthma should follow their Asthma Action Plan and have relieving medication with them.
“For most people, smoke causes mild symptoms like sore eyes, nose and throat. However, people with conditions like asthma, emphysema and angina are more likely to be sensitive to the health effects of smoke.
“People with these conditions should avoid outdoor physical activity when there’s smoke around.”
As of 8am AEST, there were 48 fires burning in NSW, 23 of which were uncontained. The state-wide fire ban continues to be in place, with temperatures in western Sydney expected to reach 39 degrees celsius.
Queensland’s Fire and Emergency Service also advised campers on Moreton Island to leave immediately on Tuesday morning as the Cowan fires escalated, while Cressbrook Creek, Crows Nest and Ravensbourne residents were advised to “prepare to leave”.
In New South Wales, four people have died and more than 303 homes have been destroyed since November 9.
Bushfires are a common and deadly threat in Australia’s hot, dry summers, but the ferocity and early arrival of this year’s outbreak in the southern hemisphere spring has caught many by surprise.
Blazes have been spurred by extremely dry conditions after three years of drought in parts of NSW and Queensland, which experts say has been exacerbated by climate change.
Earlier this week Queensland was also hit by severe hail storms. On Monday the Bureau of Meteorology issued a warning of “damaging winds and giant hail” to Sunshine Coast residents.
Five-centimetre hailstones and lightning also affected Brisbane and almost 20,000 homes in the south east of the state were without power, reported ABC.
With additional reporting by Colin Packham and Sonali Paul (Reuters)