IN A HAZE: Grafton Bridge shrouded in smoke yesterday .
IN A HAZE: Grafton Bridge shrouded in smoke yesterday . Caitlan Charles

UP IN SMOKE: Fires blaze, smoke fills Valley

CLARENCE Valley residents woke to a thick layer of smoke blanketing towns and villages on Thursday morning.

With the large number of fires burning across the valley and the Clarence Valley RFS working hard to prepare for even worse conditions during summer with hazard reduction burns, thick layer of smoke that has emerged could cause health issues for some people.

As a result, the North Coast Health Public Health Unit is urging people with respiratory conditions to take caution.

Assistant director Greg Bell said children, older adults and people with heart and lung conditions were most susceptible to the effects of air pollution and excessive smoke.

"If you have asthma you should follow your asthma action plan and take your relieving medication where necessary, and if symptoms get worse seek medical advice,” MrBell said.

"Smoke may aggravate existing heart and lung conditions and cause irritated eyes, coughing and wheezing.

"Stay indoors, close windows and follow your health plan,” Mr Bell said.

"It's also a good idea for people with known health conditions to sign up to get air-quality reports, forecasts and alerts via email or SMS from the Office of Environment and Heritage and check the NSW Rural Fire Service website for regular updates on planned burns.”

At the time of publication, there were 12 fires burning across the Clarence Valley and more hazard reduction burns planned, with the community urged to remain vigilant on the dangers as we head into the warmer months.

Smoke can even impact people with no pre-existing conditions by causing itchy or running eyes, throat irritation, runny nose and illnesses such as bronchitis.

It can also aggravate existing lung conditions like bronchitis, emphysema and asthma.

For more information on the effects of bushfire smoke, visit the NSW Health website.