By Evelyn Leckie
HAZARDOUS smoke that covered most of Victoria last week caused several services in the region to shut shop in order to protect residents’ health and safety.
As air quality levels dropped to the worst-rated on Wednesday, Mitchell and Macedon Ranges shire councils and the City of Whittlesea made immediate statements to change services.
Whittlesea Swim Centre closed its doors on Wednesday and Thursday, with council urging residents to stay inside.
City of Whittlesea acting corporate services manager Amy Montalti said council worked with outdoor staff during the week to minimise the time spent outdoors in smoky conditions in accordance with EPA advice.
“Due to the poor air quality, hard waste collections scheduled for Wednesday were rescheduled to Saturday,” Ms Montalti said.
Macedon Ranges closed its outdoor swimming pools in Woodend and Lancefield on Wednesday.
Mitchell Shire Council also closed its outdoor pools, citing the State Government’s Better Health Channel for further advice.
Connect Kids childcare centre in Kilmore was also forced to make changes its timetable for a week to prevent any health issues.
“We didn’t want to take any chances, we brought outdoor activities inside so the children were still able to keep active,” Connect Kids owner Rajesh Sharma said.
Smoke contains particles called ‘PM2.5’ which can cause short or long-term effects on respiratory or cardiovascular systems.
Children up to 14, adults over 65, smokers, pregnant women and people with pre-existing medical conditions are more vulnerable to the PM2.5 particle.
For more information on checking air quality, visit the Environment Protection Authority website at www.epa.vic.gov.au/about-epa/what-we-do/emergency-information-and-support