The Department of Disaster Management had said ash and dust from the La Soufriere volcano in St Vincent and the Grenadines could reach the BVI if there is “a shift of winds at the lower levels of the atmosphere”.
Chief of Drugs and Pharmaceutical Services, Gracia Wheatley-Smith said: “Residents, particularly asthmatics and those with respiratory conditions should secure inhalers and use them to prevent or to treat any signs of an attack the air irritants may cause.”
Wheatley-Smith further said asthmatics should have on hand a preventer inhaler usually ‘beclomethasone’ (Becotide®) which is used to reduce the inflammation and mucus production in the lungs.
They should also have the reliever inhaler usually ‘salbutamol’ (Ventolin®) used to stop the hyperactivity reaction of the lungs to an irritant such as pet dander, perfume, and in the case of the volcano — it will be the ash.
“Persons who have been diagnosed with asthma or other respiratory conditions already have hypersensitive lungs and are to ensure that they have these types of inhalers readily available for immediate treatment to prevent a visit to the emergency room,” Wheatley-Smith explained.
Persons are encouraged to consult their physicians for their prescribed inhalers or medication and visit any local pharmacy to get the prescription filled as soon as possible; should atmospheric conditions deteriorate in the coming days.
Parents of children with asthma should also observe the advice and secure inhalers for their children and consider purchasing a spacer that will ease the administration of the inhaler in young children.
Wheatley-Smith said a peak flow meter, which gives information on a person’s lung function should also be considered for purchase as they are easy to use and are affordable.
The chief also advised that the peak flow meter is good to have on hand as it can indicate good lung function which results in easy breathing or can signal a decrease in lung function which can indicate the probability of an asthma attack happening in the near future.
BVI residents are reminded to be safe, be wise, be prepared and remember medicines help but only when used wisely.
Residents can telephone 1(284) 468-9850 for more information.