Ways to Protect Yourself during the Haze Attack
Recently, the newspapers have been repeatedly reporting that air quality in Peninsular Malaysia has reached an unhealthy level, with the highest air pollutant index (API) reading recorded especially in the Northern regions . Meanwhile, the haze in Sarawak has worsen with many hot spots detected.
The returned of the haze attack has directly affected our daily activities and is set to worsen with hotter and drier weather expected over the next few months. Precautions need to be taken during these critical period in order to protect our own health. Some of the most common health issues caused by haze are conjunctivitis, throat irritation, severe cough, breathlessness, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- Stay Indoors
When at home, make sure the doors and windows are closed to avoid polluted air from flowing inside. Check the air quality forecast before heading outside. If your area is hit badly by a severe haze, make an effort to stay indoors and skip the outings. Also, instead of exercising outdoor, it is advisable to workout indoor.
- Make it a habit to wear a proper mask
There are a variety of masks selling at groceries or pharmacies. However, not all masks are meant to provide effective protection against a haze. Get yourself and your family members N95 respiratory masks to enable proper protection. Ensure the mask can cover your mouth and nose perfectly without leaving any air gap.
- Wear loose and light-coloured clothing
Loose clothing gets more evaporation, keeping you cooler while light coloured clothing reflects light. The more heat is absorbed, the hotter the clothing is and the hotter you are.
- Eat cool foods and cooling beverages
Opt for cold, lighter flavored meals such as salads and fruits instead of keropok or ayam goreng for snack during a haze attack. Green vegetables like stir-fried cucumber and bitter melon are good options too. Cooling beverages such as mung bean soup, lotus leaves teas, dried chrysanthemum tea, honeysuckle and bitter buckwheat tea are excellent and accessible local.
- Check Penang Air Quality Report before leaving the house.
Before leaving the house for school or work, make sure to check the air quality report to determine the air pollutant index (API) reading for the day. An API reading of between 0 and 50 is good, while 51 to 100 is moderate, 101 to 200 is unhealthy, 201 to 300 very unhealthy, and 301 and above is deemed hazardous.
- Keep Yourself Hydrated
Tiny particles of dust and smoke can enter your mouth, leaving your throat dry. It can turn into a throat irritation and/ or dry coughing. To combat these, keep yourself constantly hydrated. It is recommend to drink at least 2 litres of plain water every day. Water helps to flush out the toxin from our bodies. Thus, make sure to carry a water bottle along with you whenever you head outside and set a reminder to constantly sip some water.
- Avoid Physically Demanding Outdoor Chores
When you need to perform physically demanding outdoor chores, you inadvertently breathe heavier and inhale more air which contain concentrated and high quantity airborne particles which can bring damages to your respiratory system.
- Wash Your Face and Hand At Regular Intervals
Dust, air particles and toxins can easily penetrate our skins or be accidentally ingested. Washing your face and hands helps preventing them from being absorbed. Apart from washing your face and hands, whenever you come home from work or school, make sure that take a bath or shower to clear off any residues and to cool down the body.
- Do Your Part in Reducing the Pollution Levels
Selfish actions such as smoking, open burning of dried leaves or garbage, outdoor barbeque must be avoided as these actions can level up the haze issue. They can bring on long term air pollution. Do your part, be a responsible citizen and encourage a positive change in your community. Help to raise awareness among your community; a small contribution by each individual is significant enough to bring a big difference towards pollution.
- See a Doctor If You Experience Breathing Trouble
A heavy haze can cause dangerous health problems and people with a history of asthma and other respiratory disorders are particularly vulnerable. Infants, young children and older adults are more susceptible to haze-related problems and need to be given extra attention. If you are having breathing difficulties, severe skin rashes, or even if you are coughing incessantly, don’t neglect the symptoms and don’t procrastinate in calling for medical help. Call in a doctor if the symptoms are moderate. If the symptoms are severe and persists for a few days, call an ambulance and get hospitalised.