10 Survivor Ways To Protect Your Family From This Haze

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Hi Huneybees,

While I was working to complete another article, PSI at one stage reached 300, hence prompted me to quickly share the 10 ways on how we could survive this yearly but increasingly worsening haze condition! 

1. Wear A N95 Mask, Those Cute Cartoon Ones Don't Work

Haze can contain fine particles that are 2.5 microns or smaller (PM2.5), and studies have shown that N95 masks, approved by NIOSH, do provide good protection against particle pollutants as they are at least 95% efficient against fine particles that are about 0.1 – 0.3 microns.
An equivalent to N95 (a US standard) is FFP2 masks of the European Standard for masks, EN-149.

N95 masks work only if there is a good fit with the face of the wearer. MOH has earlier issued a poster to show the right way to wear one.
However the use of N95 masks increases effort in breathing and so for  Some elderly people, people with lung or heart conditions, and women in the later stages of pregnancy (2nd and 3rd trimesters) they should stop using a N95 mask if they feel uncomfortable.

2. Avoid Outdoor Activities and Stay Indoor As Much As You Could 

It's not the time to run in the park, cycling on the road or swimming in the pool as these activities will expose you to those fine particles from severe smoke haze caused by neighboring forest fire. Perform all sporting activities indoor if possible.
Same advice goes to Huneybees who enjoy fishing in the pond/jetty or barbequing food outdoor, to avoid the exposure to the pollutants which would contaminate food or block the poles of our skins.

It's the time of the year when you would want to keep all your doors and windows tightly closed while blasting the Air Conditioning the whole day without feeling too guilty about it. Place a wet mat beneath your doors too to reduce cool energy loss while preventing the pollutants from entering the house.
If electrical bill is going to create a big financial problem for your family, then head down to your nearest shopping mall to enjoy the free Air Conditioning!! Bottom line is to avoid breathing in those fine particles that could lead to future health problem that would be even more costlier.

3. Stay Hydrated

Drink more water, at least 2 litres a day and have more milk especially for those who suffers from dry throat.
Remember: If you’re well hydrated, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard and it helps the muscles work efficiently while avoid problems ranging from swollen feet or a headache to life-threatening illnesses such as heat stroke.

4. Increase Antioxidant Intake by Eating Fruits, Juice or Vitamin

Haze carries an array of free-radical particles that damage the body. The body draws antioxidants to protect the cells from damages caused by these particles. Over time our bodies lose the ability to synthesize antioxidants. Hence, it is imperative that we constantly supply our bodies with antioxidant-rich food and beverages. If you haven't done it yet, its time that you start loading your body with antioxidant goodness for optimal protection against hazards which may be caused by the haze.

There are many ways to increase antioxidant intake but the easiest way is to purchase a pack such as F&N Fruit Tree Fresh from the supermarket or convenience stores near you.
Alternative, you may also wish to stock up on those Vitamin C and have Nin Joim Bei regularly.

5. Consult Doctor For Breathing Related Problem, Especially For Those With Asthmatic Medical History

I have been diagnosed with adult-onset asthma for sometime now but these days I am a lot more careful with what I eat and the environment that I am in, due to the ever worsening smoke haze that increases the frequency of my asthma attack. 

My situation could happen to any Huneybees too even if you do not have a childhood asthma history because of the changes to our muscles and stiffening of chest walls after middle age.
For Huneybees like me, do remember the drill of carrying your prescribed inhaler close to you.

The symptoms of asthma include:
  • Feeling short of breath
  • Frequent coughing, especially at night
  • Wheezing (a whistling noise during breathing)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest tightness

Remember: Asthma attack could be fatal so do consult your doctor if you have the slightest breathing discomfort and experience any of the above symptoms.

6. Do Not Re-wear Clothes And Hang Laundry Outdoor

There have been many reports of increased skin irritation complaints at GP clinic caused by the irritant effects of fine dust particles. One way to avoid being a victim of such unbearable itch is to wash the clothes after you have had wore them outdoor and hang dry the freshly washed clothes indoor to prevent the
dust particles from cling onto your clothes and hence causes skin allergies.

If you happened to stay in low floors units or your apartment is "designed" to trap moisture and you don't own a dryer, no worries, you could visit one of those coin-operated laundry and dryer services that have been popping out in housing estate of late.

7. Avoid/Minimize Smoking, 2nd Hand Smoking

Singapore laws prohibits smoking indoor hence for all smokers during this hazy season, that's bad news! Not only are you burning your lungs away with the tars that you inhaled from each burning stick that you smoke, but also the fine particles from the severe forest burning haze itself; and that's double damage to your health.
For non-smokers, sometime we became a willing 2nd hand smoker cause we wanted to spend times with our friends/BFF/colleagues/bosses while they were having their smoking breaks. This is that time to avoid such silly acts for the obvious reason.

8. Create Optimum Air Quality In Your Home By Using Air Purifier With HEPA Filter

Let's not kid ourselves to think that this hazardous environmental condition will go away anytime soon so it's an investment, if you could afford one, for the better health being of your family.
If you are buying one, do make sure you buy one that has the genuine HEPA filtration (it's 99.97 percent of particles at 0.3 microns—often described as "true HEPA" or "absolute HEPA") by checking the particulate size quoted by the manufacturer. Everything else is just a waste of money.

9. Shower After Return Home

Wash your hair and bathe every time you get home from outside to get rid of the dust particles. The principle is similar to 6. Do Not Re-wear Clothes And Hang Laundry Outdoor.

10. Have Plants At Home with broad leaves at home to absorb dusts

This might seems bazaar but its true, plants with broad leaves do absorb dust. Granted, not all plants with broad leaves have the same dust absorption ability so selection of the type is key. Here are two plants that I have researched personally that do work - Picea mongolica and P. koraiensis.

Interestingly, NASA research has recommended plants like the areca palm, mother-in-law’s tongue, and the money plant to detox indoor air.

A word of caution here: All indoor plants need to be kept near an open window to expel the carbon dioxide that they generate after sunset hence you should be prepared to install a flood light or lamp to shine at these plants in the night during the hazy season otherwise you are far better off leaving them outside your house instead.

Do share this article with your loved ones so that everyone around us, including ourselves, could stay healthy and not let the haze beats us down!

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