5 Tips for Staying Healthy During a Dust Storm in Australia

Dust storms aren’t exactly a top-of-mind answer when someone asks you to name a natural disaster, but they do happen in Australia. Sandstorms, as they are also called, can take place sporadically across the country, particularly in dry and arid areas where the ground is covered by loose dust or sand. This natural event is more likely to happen in summer and in times of severe drought or a cold front.

Turbulent winds that exceed 30 kph give rise to dust storms. Such a force carries more than just dust and sand; it also sweeps up microorganisms that can directly harm one’s health, like bacteria and fungi spores. The wall of loose debris in itself can cause danger, as it can limit visibility and exacerbate road accidents. At the same time, it can also bring down the air quality in an affected area, which can lead to respiratory difficulties, lung issues, and other health concerns.

Given all the negative effects of a dust storm in some parts of the Australian continent, how do you prepare yourself for it? The skills and techniques you learned from completing a first aid course in Melbourne will certainly come in hand in case you need to attend to someone who is suffering from injuries, emergencies, or an asthma attack due to the poor air quality. In addition to that, here are some helpful and practical tips to minimise the negative impacts of a dust storm on your health and that of your loved ones.

  1. Keep an eye out for those who are more vulnerable to the effects of a dust storm. Without a doubt, anyone in an area that has been affected by a dust storm will feel uncomfortable. The increased number of particulates in the air can lead to coughing, sore throat, and runny nose, among others. At the same time, there are people who are more likely to suffer ill health from the event. These include infants and young children, the elderly, and people who are suffering from respiratory conditions, heart disease, or diabetes. Check on them once in a while to address the symptoms of their illnesses and to prevent their condition from worsening.
  2. Stick to your asthma management plan. The debris that make up a dust storm can easily trigger an asthma attack. If you have asthma and you’re experiencing common reactions to dust storms like coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, or chest pain, then immediately start with your asthma management plan to properly address the symptoms. Don’t hesitate to seek medical advice if the symptoms persist.
  3. Stay indoors and avoid physically demanding activities. It’s best to stay indoors, preferably in an air conditioned room, while you’re waiting for the storm to pass. Refrain from engaging in strenuous activities as these can cause you to breathe in more of the hazardous air brought about by the storm.
  4. If you must go out, keep your mouth and nose covered. If going out is unavoidable, make sure you protect yourself. You can use a damp cloth to cover your nose, protecting yourself from dust particles and debris. It’s advised, however, to wear a P2 or P3 mask that will help filter the finest particles from the air that you breathe.
  5. Reduce your speed if on the road. Should the dust storm get to you while you’re on the road, the best course of action is to slow down or prepare to get off the road to avoid accidents. To limit the amount of dust that can get inside your car, set your air conditioner to recirculate.

Dust storms may not last long, but they can also leave long-term impacts on one’s health. Keep these 5 tips in mind the next time a dust storm takes place so that you can limit the effects of this natural phenomenon to your household.

*This article is for informational purposes only and does constitute, replace, or qualify as RPL for our first aid training courses.

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