In recent months, bushfires have wrought devastation on our communities, wildlife and homes. Although this season is arguably the worst in history- albeit with low loss of human life – it’s likely that with climate change, and long-standing drought, bushfires and their effects will be an ongoing challenge for our nation.
If you live in an urban area you may experience one of the secondary effects of bushfire – smoke haze. Smoke haze blankets cities with a thick pall of smoke and impacts air quality and visibility. Prolonged smoke haze can also have an impact on the health of you, your family and your pets.
Bushfire smoke is a mixture of different-sized particles, water vapour and gases, including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides. The finer particles can be breathed into the lungs, causing adverse health effects.
If smoke haze is affecting the area you live in, there are things you can do to minimise its effects.
Make sure all doors and windows are closed, and block gaps in windows and doors to keep them airtight. If the haze lifts even a short period of time, open doors and windows to allow fresh air through your home.
Run air-conditioners and fans as long as you can, and add a filter to your air-conditioning unit to stop smoky air coming in. A portable air purifier will improve air quality in your home.
Indoor plants can also help contribute to the air quality in your home. Dry clothes and bed linen inside where possible to stop smoke permeating the fabric.
Babies, pregnant women and the elderly are particularly at risk from the effects of poor air quality.
Bushfire smoke can aggravate existing lung conditions such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma.
People who suffer respiratory issues should avoid outdoor activities and avoid vigorous exercise. If shortness of breath or coughing develops, seek medical advice or use a reliever.
If you must go outside for prolonged periods, cover your nose and mouth with a fine particle mask designed to filter fine particles. These are available from hardware stores or chemists or buy online. The mask should be rated to filter at least 95% of the tiny particulate matter, known as PM2.5. These pollution particles are 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, 20 times smaller than a human hair. They are most dangerous as they are capable or crossing into the bloodstream.
If you like to jog or exercise outdoors, you will need a mask designed for sport and outdoor activity. The best course of action is to minimise or cancel non-essential outdoor activities until the air quality improves, including exercising your pets.
Future Changes in Building Design
Australia will need to look at changes in building design to make our homes more pollution-proof in the future. European designs which use high-performance glazing, insulation and an airtight building envelope to control the internal temperature are already being trialled.
If you have renovated your home in the last six and a half years, you may need an Owner Builder Defects Report, also known as a 137b. Call The Home Inspection Hub today on 1300 071 283 or use our free online quote facility, to see how we can assist.