I am shocked by the news about 298 schools in Sarawak being closed due to haze following a spike in the air pollutant index. I do not expect the condition to be that serious back in my hometown Sarikei. My father had just shared a link in our family WhatsApp group that reported air quality index in Sarikei has reached 157 and the few districts that topped the list are all in Sarawak. No wonder my mother kept reminding me to put on a mask while going out these past few days. The current weather in Kuala Lumpur is really dry and irritating due to the haze. I have experienced dry sensations in my eyes and itchiness in my throat since a few days ago. Because of that, I would now like to share some tips to prevent yourself from getting ill due to the haze.
First, check the daily air pollution forecast in your area before planning any outdoor activities. You may get the updates from the local radio channels, newspapers, and weather reports from various television and online platforms. If you find the air quality index has reached an unhealthy level, avoid outdoor activities or even staying outdoor for a prolonged period of time.
If you still have to perform activities that require you to be outdoor, you are encouraged to wear a facial mask and remind your family and friends to do the same. Putting on sunblock or moisturiser on exposed skin can also help prevent direct exposure to possible harmful air pollutants. After coming back from any outdoor activities, make sure you clean yourself thoroughly with an appropriate soap or cleanser, particularly on hands, feet, neck and face that are usually exposed.
Avoid doing sports near high traffic areas. Even if the air quality index or forecast indicates healthy level, the vehicles on busy highways can create high pollution levels up to one third a mile away. You can try to switch to indoor sports that can be done with an exercise machine or in gym.
You may use an air purifier or humidifier at home to reduce the impacts of haze. Increased air humidity reduces bodily discomfort caused by dry air. Air purifier can filter out some of the air pollutants. To reduce exposure to air pollutants, the windows and doors should not be left opened all day long. The house should also be cleaned more frequently to prevent accumulation of dust that may lead to allergic reaction or other forms of respiratory tract discomfort.
Finally, avoid smoking indoor and in public places for the benefits of others and yourself. You should at least be responsible in making all public places and your own home tobacco-free. In addition, ban open burning which is the major source of air pollution. Think twice before you act. Don’t be selfish and worsen the haze. You are risking your own and everyone else’s health.
To avoid getting mouth ulcers and sore throat due to the dry and hot weather, I recommend you the cooling herbal teas such as chrysanthemum tea, ajuga and luo han fruit drink. These herbs are known for their cooling effects and can be prepared with rock sugar or honey. If you are suffering from mouth ulcer, you may try to get compound watermelon frost from any Chinese herbs shop and apply it on the ulcers. It really does wonders.