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Haze-proof Yourself! – 4 ways to prepare for a haze epidemic

On Friday morning last week, Singapore woke up to a (unfortunately familiar) smell of fire and a blanket of what-looked-like steam. The haze was upon the island state again. Residents of Singapore immediately feared that that was the start of another prolonged haze season a la 2015’s 4-month episode[1], during which PM2.5 levels reached as high as 471[2]. However, thankfully, over the weekend “prevailing winds gradually strengthened to blow from the south”[3], relieving these fears and clearing up the air to allow for normal day-to-day activities. While the epidemic was short-lived this time round, Friday’s scare was a poignant reminder that the hazard of haze is real. Given Singapore’s geographical location, most of its residents have lived through an extended period of extreme hazy conditions and have hence personally experienced their consequences – from restrictions they place on lifestyle to tolls they take on the human body (e.g. eye inflammation, lung scarring, etc.[4]). It is hence important that we stay vigilant and conscious of the possibility that haze may hit us at any time. While diplomatic discussions and work are underway at a regional level (e.g. Indonesia’s formal acceptance of help from Singapore to tackle haze[5], preparedness can also (and should) play out at the level of the individual. Here are 4 ways that we can be ever-ready for haze to strike us – don’t be caught off guard! 1. Invest in an air-conditioner or air cooler Now, we understand that disposable incomes vary from individual to individual, but we are of the view that air-conditions and air coolers make good investments. By installing either in your home (or wherever you spend most of your time at), you will be able to purify the air in the room by removing pollutants, putting you at less risk of respiratory problems. Considering how the price of air-conditioners and air coolers tend to increase during a periods of extreme haze, it is a good idea to procure one now when demand is low. Alternatively, even better – air purifiers and ionisers are winners as they are able to trap even the tiniest of air particles. 2. Always have haze contingency plans Coming up with contingency plans (i.e. Plan Bs and even Plan Cs) is second nature to event organisers such as the brains behind large-scale festivals; it would be devastating if an outdoor public event that has been months in the making was cancelled because of uncontrollable situations such as rain, for instance! Lessons we can learn from these professionals are to also take into consideration the possibility of haze when going about our activities. Day-to-day plans such as shopping at a pasar malam are probably easy to shift, but an outdoor 21st birthday party for which time and money has been invested into may not be that easily reworked should haze strike at the last minute. This problem can be avoided should haze contingency plans exist from the get-go, such as having air-conditioned venues available on demand should the need to relocate guests away from the haze arise. 3. Devise an indoor workout routine Evening jogs at the park are common amongst working adults and even students, but these healthy activities are hazardous during times of haze. As not everyone has access to a gym (be it convenience or ability to afford gym membership), it will be useful to start thinking of and incorporating indoor workout routines into your exercise plans. A simple search via the internet will yield several ideas; while yoga mats and dumbbells are often included, there are many workout routines that don’t require equipment other than your muscles. And, of course, if you don’t actually have any exercise plans at the moment in the first place, be it indoors or outdoors, it’s time to… START EXERCISING. Come on, get to it! *shakes finger* 4. Prepare your body by consuming loads of vitamins, omega-3s and water The best way to fight the haze is to have a strong body to withstand it. Start improving your body’s immune system today as good health is nurtured over time; it’ll be too late if one starts being health-conscious only when disaster hits. Think long term by consuming foods rich in vitamins C and E such as goji berries, and foods rich in omega-3s such as salmon and chia seeds. In addition, it will be useful consider learning how to prepare healthy cooling drinks such as chia water so that you’ll have nutritious recipes up your sleeve the next time haze hits. Never underestimate the power of consuming loads of water and a pantry stocked with superfoods for a rainy hazy day!   References [1] 2015 Southeast Asian Haze. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Southeast_Asian_haze> [Accessed 30 August 2016]. [2] Today Online. (2015). PM2.5 levels hit 471 as haze situation worsens. Retrieved from <http://www.todayonline.com/world/asia/pm25-levels-hit-471-haze-situation-worsens> [Accessed 30 August 2016]. [3] National Environment Agency. (2016). Haze: PSI for the next 24 hours expected to be in moderate range. Today Online [online]. Retrieved from <http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/haze-psi-next-24-hours-expected-be-moderate-range> [Accessed 30 August 2016]. [4] Bliss Air. (2016). Health effects of haze. Bliss Air [online]. Retrieved from <https://blissair.com/health-effects-of-haze.htm> [Accessed 30 August 2016]. [5] Channel NewsAsia. (2015). Indonesia formally accepts help from Singapore to tackle haze. Channel NewsAsia [online]. Retrieved from <http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/indonesia-formally/2178362.html> [Accessed 30 August 2016].

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