The Smognificent Seven
Rules for dealing with the haze
When dealing with the haze, follow these steps in sequence:
- Ensure that your personal airspace is as clean as possible. When outside, wear a surgical mask; it only takes a few moments to put on and while it may be uncomfortable at first, you’ll soon get used to it. Nasal sprays can also help keep your nose clean. Other semi-essential items include eye drops and face wipes, but these are more for comfort than health.
- Practice air safety at home – while ventilation is important, you should be smart about it. If you don’t have air-conditioning (or better, an air purifier), keep a few windows barely open to ensure air circulation and hang wet towels in front of them to catch as much dust as they can. If you live in KL where the haze is thick, or similarly-affected areas, be sure to close up any other sources of incoming air (place newspapers under doors, for example).
- Keep hydrated- the human body cannot live more than 2-3 days without water, and a lack of water can become life-threatening even sooner. Reduce alcohol or caffeinated drinks, as they promote water loss.
- If you notice yourself or anyone close to you having these symptoms – wheezing, heavy coughing (especially at night), breathing difficulties and stuffy chests. Then see a doctor immediately, as these are symptoms of respiratory diseases like asthma.
- Try to eat foods like oily fish (e.g. sardines, anchovies and trout). Research has shown that these contain Omega-3 acids, which help with blood (and thus, oxygen) circulation. Fruit, leafy vegetables and nuts can also help. Stay away from dairy products, sugar and red meat- the fat and cholesterol in these could aggravate breathing problems.
- Take care when driving- if you can’t see other commuters, they won’t see you! Drive at 10-20km under the speed limit, so that you or your fellow drivers have plenty of time to react if something goes wrong.
- Finally, don’t be afraid! The haze might restrict some of your activities, but life can go on. Stay positive, and be confident that this will blow over soon, perhaps literally. That said, it never hurts to plan ahead- these two websites should help you keep track of local air quality ratingss: