January 6, 2020 In Eleanor Clinic
The Australian bushfires.
This summer’s bushfires are a disaster on a global scale. There are many layers to this tragedy and how to address these in the future. At the moment, the biggest concern is what we can do here and now.
How can I help others?
Victoria’s Premier, Daniel Andrews, has made it clear that Victoria no longer requires food or clothes donations. In fact, there’s so many of these that they’re now causing logistical issues and hindering emergency services in doing their job effectively.
You can donate to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal (a Victorian Government Initiative) at any Bendigo Bank or online. Any donation over $2 is tax deductible and 100% of donations will go towards the bush fire relief.
News.com.au provides a good overview of other organisations accepting donations that go towards those affected by the fires.
If this an option for you, you might want to consider offering free accommodation to families affected by the fires. The East Gippsland Council co-ordinates these offers. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, with details of the accommodation you can provide (location, number of bedrooms, dates available), and your contact details. Online accommodation rental giant AirBnB is also offering their platform for free to families affected by the fires and those offering to host them.
What can I do for myself and my family?
A good start is to realise that we are all experiencing a disaster. We have now lost a land area to bush fires the size of Ireland. Dozens of people have died, thousands have been displaced. An estimated 500,000,000 native animals have perished. Over a thousand homes have been destroyed. And there is currently no end in sight.
Here’s a short list on where to get quality, up to date information:
- Air quality – EPA website
- Official status and emergency warnings in Victoria via VicEmergency app – App Store | Google Play or online
What can I do to lessen the impact of smoke and pollution on myself and my family?
This is difficult to assess and there’s not a lot of research to guide us on this issue. During times of significant smoke pollution the best course of action is to stay home and keep the windows closed. If you do use air-conditioners, make sure you set them to re-circulate the air – otherwise you are going to end up with environmental smoke in your home. Standard air conditioners can’t filter out smoke particles as these are so small they do not get held back by the filters.
Masks are very unlikely to help children, as they won’t seal tight to the face and the children will just breath contaminated air through the gaps. For adults, special P2 masks from hardware stores may be an option but they have sold out in many places. This is probably just as well as, again, they are unlikely to help much unless you manage to achieve an excellent seal to the face. Medical supply stores may also still have some stock of ’N95’ surgical type masks which achieve similar filtration. They will likely reduce the amount of particles you’re exposed to but by no means filter all of them.
Naaman Zhou from The Guardian has written an excellent overview on our current levels of environmental smoke and masks that might be helpful to you.
As always, care for yourself and look out for others that may need your help. Particularly younger family members may pickup on the tension and apprehension that may build up without being able to put this into words. Sitting down, explaining that there are fires happening that send smoke across the country might give meaning to those fears. Letting your children know that they and their family are safe will also help alleviate fears. If you do decide to donate maybe do this together with your children to show them that fears and even big challenges like the one we are facing right now can be addressed and, eventually, overcome.
Lastly, if you experience a medical emergency dial 000 for urgent help. If your medical issue is not life-threatening but you do see your health impacted, our team at Eleanor Clinic are available as always.