A NSW Government website

Health advice

Bushfire smoke health advice

Bushfire smoke can affect your health. It can also make some people’s existing health conditions worse. It is important for everyone to reduce their exposure to smoke.

  • Visit Health NSW - Bushfire to learn how to protect yourself and your family from bushfire smoke.
  • See Air quality categories to learn about air quality information, what air quality categories are, how they are calculated and how you should use them to protect your health.

Steps to reduce risk from bushfire smoke

Things you can do:

  • Monitor the air quality in your area and follow the health advice in the activity guide.
  • Follow your doctor’s advice about how to stay safe if you are more sensitive to smoke. Actively monitor for symptoms and follow your health action plan (for example an Asthma Action Plan), if you have one. Keep your medication close by.
  • Spend more time indoors and avoid outdoor activity as much as possible. Keep the air inside your home as clean as possible.
    • To do this:
      • close windows and doors and open them when air quality improves
      • switch your air conditioner to recirculate if it has this function
      • do not use evaporative coolers because they bring outdoor air inside
      • avoid indoor sources of air pollution like cigarettes, vapes, candles and incense sticks
      • consider using an air purifier with a high efficiency particle air (HEPA) filter to remove smoke from your indoor air. To work well, the purifier must be used in small, well-sealed areas. Humidifiers, negative ion generators and odour absorbers do not remove fine particles in bushfire smoke.
    • Spend time in air-conditioned venues like cinemas, libraries and shopping centres.
    • Consider using a P2/N95 mask to protect you from bushfire smoke if you are unable to avoid exposure. P2/N95 masks must fit properly​ with an air-tight seal to work well. Surgical and cloth masks do not protect you from smoke.
      Learn if a mask is right for you and how to fit your mask. If you have a heart or lung condition, talk to your doctor before using a mask.

People at higher risk of illness from bushfire smoke

Some people may be more sensitive to bushfire smoke. You may be more sensitive to the health effects of bushfire smoke if you:

  • have a pre-existing heart or lung condition like asthma, emphysema and angina
  • are pregnant
  • are aged over 65
  • are an infant or a young child
  • have diabetes.

Find more resources on NSW Health – know if you are at higher risk from bushfire smoke to help you manage your health and your family’s health when it is smoky.

If you need information specific to people with asthma, visit the Asthma Australia website to access their free helpline.

Anyone with persistent symptoms should seek medical advice or call healthdirect on 1800 022 222.

Call Triple Zero 000 if you or anyone in your care is experiencing a medical emergency, such as trouble breathing or chest pain or tightness.