Prepare for summer, and thunderstorm asthma season

Important steps early childhood education and care services can take to ensure children are sunsmart and safe during this season

 Early childhood education and care services should now be practicing sun protection and preparing for the potential of an epidemic thunderstorm asthma event.

UV radiation is at its highest in Victoria from mid-August to April, peaking during afternoon hours. Early childhood education and care services are required to provide sun and UV protection, and create environments that minimise the risk of skin cancer.

Every year between October and December there is an increase in asthma and hay fever symptoms. During grass pollen season there is also the chance of an epidemic thunderstorm asthma event.

Those at increased risk of epidemic thunderstorm asthma include people with asthma, people with a past history of asthma, people with undiagnosed asthma (those who have asthma symptoms but have not yet been diagnosed with asthma), and people with hay fever who may or may not have asthma. Having both asthma and hay fever, as well as poor control and self-management of asthma, increases the risk.

What early childhood education and care services can do

There are important steps early childhood education and care services can take to ensure children are sunsmart and safe during this season.

Sun protection and heat preparation

  • Support staff and children to use a combination of sun protection measures when UV index levels are 3 or above.
  • Encourage and support children to develop sun protection skills.
  • Ensure there are outdoor environments that provide adequate shade for children and staff.
  • Implement policy and procedures promoting sun-safe practices in consultation with children, staff and parents.

Thunderstorm asthma preparation

  • Ensure children have an asthma action plan (developed with the treating medical team), and an allergy plan if required.
  • Keep asthma medication readily accessible.
  • Avoid being outside during thunderstorms that occur between October and December, especially the wind gusts that come before the storm.
  • Designated first aid staff should ensure they have completed the relevant asthma first aid training and are aware and confident in administering asthma first aid.
  • Subscribe to the VicEmergency app to receive warnings, and record that you have done this in your Emergency Management Plan.

When the risk of epidemic thunderstorm asthma is forecast as high, early childhood education and care services must also be prepared to act on warnings and advice from the Department by:

  • implementing a communication strategy to inform the early childhood education and care services community and parents
  • implementing procedures to avoid exposure, such as staying indoors with windows and doors closed, and turning air conditioners to recirculate
  • implementing emergency response procedures and following individual asthma action plans as needed.

Resources for your early childhood education and care services

Resources are available to support early childhood education and care services, including:

More information

For information or support in completing your Emergency Management Plan, or to find out more about emergency management procedures to respond to epidemic thunderstorm asthma, contact the Operations and Emergency Management Manager or Emergency Management Support Officer in your region.

For more information about thunderstorm asthma, see: Thunderstorm asthma

To become a SunSmart early childhood education and care service and implement a range SunSmart programs, see: SunSmart