RESIDENTS of the Huon Valley south of Hobart are being warned to remain inside their homes as thick smoke blankets the region.

A burn off in state forests is causing thick smoke in the area.

An urgent warning for all people who suffer from asthma or other respiratory illnesses have been urged to take precautions, according to the Asthma Foundation of Tasmania.

Chief executive officer Cathy Beswick said exposure to wood smoke can trigger asthma symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, chest tightness or shortness of breath.

She said children, the elderly and people with breathing problems, including asthma, are the first to feel the effects of smoke and particle pollution which means they need to take extra care.

“Asthma is a serious condition and if not managed properly, particularly in the current circumstances, can be life threatening,’’ Ms Beswick said.

Where possible, asthma suffers should:

- Stay indoors and keep windows and doors closed;
- Minimise the amount of physical outdoor activity;
- If using an air conditioner or heat pump at home or in the car, set it to recycle;
- Try to minimise exposure to other irritants such as cigarette smoke and dust; and,
- Make sure their blue/grey reliever medication is at hand.

If in any doubt about these precautions you can contact the Asthma Foundation of Tasmania on 1800 645 130.

If, however, it is an emergency situation or if you find breathing uncharacteristically difficult - call 000 immediately.

Mercury HERE

Picture: One of three smoke plumes on the horizon across the Huon from Wattle Grove on the afternoon of March 31, 2010.  Pic: Bob Hawkins