Updated: 2.15pm Wednesday
Victoria's Chief Health Officer has issued a thunderstorm asthma advice for the Mallee, Northern Country, Wimmera and South West Districts
The notice said that that people may experience asthma symptoms or difficulty breathing due to the combination of thunderstorm activity and high grass pollen levels
- If you have a history of asthma or hay fever, or you experience wheezing, breathlessness, a feeling of tightness in the chest or a persistent cough, you should have reliever medication with you at all times today.
- Avoid the wind gusts before the storm. Go inside and close your windows and doors before and during the storm.
- If you're experiencing any of the above symptoms you may be having an asthma attack.
- An asthma attack is serious and can be life threatening.
- If you develop asthma symptoms, follow your asthma action plan, or if you don't have a plan, follow the 4 steps of asthma first aid.
Call triple zero (000) immediately if someone is not breathing, if their asthma suddenly becomes worse or is not improving, or if the person is having an asthma attack and a reliever is not available
Updated: 5.15pm Tuesday
There is a high risk of thunderstorm asthma on Wednesday as storms move through the Grampians, Wimmera and Mallee.
A high risk (red) forecast means that there is a high pollen forecast and severe thunderstorm(s) with strong winds are likely to be present increasing the risk of an epidemic thunderstorm asthma event occuring.
The forecast is published on VicEmergency - emergency.vic.gov.au/prepare/#thunderstorm-asthma-forecast
Storms and a peak in pollen counts in the region this week have lead Ambulance Victoria to urge people to be aware of thunderstorm asthma symptoms and when to call for help.
A moderate thunderstorm asthma warning is in place for the Grampians, Wimmera and Mallee on November 10.
Bureau of Meteorology Senior forecaster Chris Arvier said while it would stay hot on Tuesday, a "significant" change would move across the state on Wednesday.
"We will see numbers eight to 12 degrees above the average November temperature on Tuesday, and beyond that we've got a very warm night heading into Wednesday," he said.
"We are expecting a few thunderstorms tomorrow (Tuesday), most likely in the Wimmera and Mallee districts in the afternoon, likely to be quite dry thunderstorms."
The thunderstorm asthma season officially runs from October to the end of December, but the peak risk is around the middle of November.
Thunderstorm asthma occurs when whole pollen grains are swept up into storm clouds. Moisture in the clouds break the pollen into smaller particles which are then blown the ground where they can be breathed deeply into the lungs.
The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted that pollen will be high early this week.
Ambulance Victoria's Director of Emergency Management Justin Dunlop said asthma, seasonal hay fever and COVID-19 have symptoms in common.
"Symptoms of hay fever include a runny or itchy nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes while asthma symptoms including wheezing, breathlessness, a tight chest and persistent cough," he said.
"As we know, COVID symptoms also include a runny nose, tight chest and cough."
Mr Dunlop said it was important for people to manage their hay fever and asthma appropriately.
"If you suffer from seasonal hay fever you are at increased risk of asthma developing during a thunderstorm asthma event, so speak to your GP or pharmacist about treatment and whether you need to have an asthma preventer," he said.
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"If you are an asthma suffer, make sure you discuss your management plan with your GP and have plenty of preventer and reliever medication and a spacer on hand."
Mr Dunlop said people should also avoid being outside during thunderstorms from October through December, particularly in the wind gusts before the rain.
"If possible, go inside your house or car and close your doors and windows. If you have an air conditioner, switch it on to recirculate the air," he said.
"Don't hesitate to call Triple Zero (000) if you or someone near you is experiencing symptoms such as obvious difficulty breathing, coughing or wheezing, unable to speak a full sentence in one breath or reliever medication isn't lasting as long as usual."