Plan ahead to keep safe from Thunderstorm Asthma

Victorians are being reminded to protect themselves and their loved ones from the risk of epidemic thunderstorm asthma by using Victoria’s world-class risk forecasting system this grass pollen season.

Grass pollen season, which typically runs from the start of October until the end of December, brings with it a seasonal increase in asthma and hay fever – and the chance of thunderstorm asthma.

Epidemic thunderstorm asthma occurs when many people develop asthma symptoms over a short time caused by high amounts of grass pollen and a certain type of thunderstorm.

Victoria’s forecasting system, which is operating from October 1 until 31 December, enables people who have asthma or seasonal hay fever – and who are at risk – to plan ahead and reduce their risk.

The forecasting system, launched in 2017, gives a three-day forecast showing the risk of this type of event, from low (green), moderate (orange) to high (red) risk, across the nine Victorian weather districts.

The epidemic thunderstorm asthma risk forecast is available daily through the VicEmergency websiteExternal Link and app, and community members can set up a watch zone to receive advice and warnings for their area. The forecast is also available on our website and the Melbourne Pollen websiteExternal Link and app.

Melbourne experienced the world’s largest epidemic thunderstorm asthma event on 21 November 2016, which resulted in 10 tragic deaths and thousands of people developing breathing difficulties in a very short time.

On high-risk forecast days, Victorians with asthma or spring hay fever can reduce their risk by avoiding storms, particularly the wind gusts that come before them. They should go indoors to reduce the chance of exposure, close windows and doors turn off air conditioners bringing air in from outside.

The current outlook is for an average grass pollen season for Victoria this year. Those at risk should still ensure they take any prescribed medication as directed and follow their asthma action plan or use asthma first aid if they experience symptoms.

/Public Release. View in full here.