Schools campaign launched to help raise awareness of what to do if a child has an asthma attack

A new Asthma at School campaign launched in Wales aims to improving the care of pupils as data shows children with asthma are more at risk of an asthma attack when they go back to school in the autumn term

Leading health charity, Asthma + Lung UK Cymru has launched a new Asthma at School campaign aimed at schools to help spot first signs of an asthma attack, what do in an emergency and when to call 999.1

Asthma is the most common long-term medical condition in children in Wales, affecting around 59,000 youngsters.2 Parents of children with asthma need to be on their guard as3:

  • Autumn term (Sep-Nov) is responsible for 39% of childhood asthma admissions throughout the year
  • Asthma admissions more than triple (231%) when children return to school after the summer holidays
  • In 2021/22 852 children ended up in hospital requiring emergency care because of their asthma.

The campaign aims to highlight the importance of schools or nurseries knowing all about a child’s asthma, to help them live well and thrive at school. Schools can get involved by downloading and displaying a new poster, which includes vital health advice on what to do if a child has an asthma attack and when to call 999. The charity also wants to raise awareness among school staff to recognise the signs of an asthma attack, which can come on suddenly or over a few days.

Gemma Perkins, a Mum from Bridgend supports the campaign saying: “Since 2018 my son Ethan has been hospitalised over 15 times with his asthma. His school ensures he takes his inhalers, and it gives me confidence to send him in, so he doesn’t miss school”.

“Ethan started having asthma symptoms, such as wheezing and breathlessness from the age of two. At one stage, his asthma attacks were so bad that he was being hospitalised every month for 2 days at a time. Changes in weather and hay fever play are major triggers for him, so regular appointments and check-ups are really important to keep him safe and well.

“November 2021 he was admitted to hospital, but he didn’t respond to treatment. It was the scariest thing we have been through as a family. I never want to see Ethan fighting for breath again.

Joseph Carter, Head of Asthma + Lung UK Cymru, said:

“We’re launching this awareness campaign because there is no such thing as mild asthma - as anyone with the condition could end up having a potentially life-threatening asthma attack.

“Common signs that a child might be at risk of an asthma attack include increased coughing, especially when doing activities, wheezing, and a tight chest. But symptoms vary, which is why it’s important that all caregivers including teachers, as well as parents, are familiar with a child’s individual triggers and red flags. These can be shared via the school asthma card which can be downloaded from our website.

“It is also vital to know what to do in an emergency. Following these five steps if a child is having an asthma attack, could be lifesaving.

  1. Get the child to sit up, rather than lying them down, and keep them calm.
  2. Help them to take one puff of their reliever inhaler (usually blue) with their spacer every 30 to 60 seconds, up to 10 puffs.
  3. If you don’t have their reliever, it’s not helping, or you are worried at any time, call 999 for an ambulance.
  4. If the ambulance has not arrived after 10 minutes, or the child’s symptoms aren’t improving, repeat step two.
  5. If there’s no improvement, call 999 again immediately.

“These five steps can also be found on our new schools poster which can be downloaded here:



  1. In autumn, children in the UK with asthma are exposed to top triggers including colds and flu and evidence shows they are more likely to be hospitalised for an asthma attack when they return to school. 77% of respondents said colds and flu were a trigger in our Life with a Lung Condition Survey 2023; more than 14,000 surveyed.
  3. Data extract from Digital Health and Care Wales - Quarterly Respiratory Conditions report.