HARMATTAN HAZARDS THAT CAN CAUSE DEATH

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Every season comes with its own challenge. For the Harmattan it ranges from health hazards, to increase in fire out break and even air/road accidents. Even though it is a period that people usually feel a huge relieve from the scotching heat of the sun of the previous season, the harsh conditions of Harmattan can actually lead to death where care is not taken!

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I woke up this morning with flu and I know for a certainty it is not unconnected to the season. So I decided to share my thoughts on how to cope with the challenges that the harmattan season comes with. I will discuss them under two major heading; health and safety!

HEALTH

Harmattan is not the best of time for anyone including those who often pride themselves of never falling ill. In this season you find them wheezing and sneezing! Those with certain medical condition like asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis and any sort of inhalant allergies are worse off due to much amounts of dust associated with the season. That is my reality right now.

The weather comes with frequent headaches, cough, cold, sore throat, sneezing, wet eyes, catarrh and general nasal tract disorder causing great discomfort.

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The dry, cold and dusty wind associated with the harmattan weather can also lead to more complicated diseases like rheumatism, cardiac arrest, nose bleeding, arthritis and even death from hypothermia, because the respiratory system suffers greatly when the body is exposed to cold and dry weather. It can also triggers crises in Sickle Cell patients.

Then there are of course the mild challenges like cracking of lips or breaking of lips, sole of the feet, conjunctivitis, dry skin and others.

Precautions:

  1. LIMIT EXPOSURE TO DUST – You cannot really control the dust on the street but you can absolutely control the dust in your home by dusting your furniture and areas dusts love to lurk as often as possible with wet rags, get rid of fluffy rugs and stick with Linoleum or bare tiles for now, wash curtains you have not touched since God-knows-when and de-cluster the house as too many unused items become storage for dust! And if you have to be anywhere you would be exposed to a lot of dust, use a nose mask.

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  1. STAY HYDRATED – The Harmattan beyond being very dusty also leaves us very dry, therefore you have to keep yourself hydrated all the time. Get plenty of fluids. It helps break up your congestion, makes your throat moist, and keeps you from getting dehydrated. A bottle of water should be your companion always this season!

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  1. IMPROVE ON HYGIENE – Since dust is bent on invading everywhere and everything this season, always wash up your food items properly before consumption whether it is straight of your kitchen counter, from the supermarket shelf or from the local market. There is dust everywhere! Also this is a good time to avoid patronizing street hawkers because their wares have collected more enough dust to raise an anthill! You can imagine the self-discipline I have employed to drive past a Boli seller! Quite painful and most daunting but I have to do so for my health sake!

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  1. DRESS WARM – This is not the time for unnecessary exposure of the body to cold, as it would sip in without you realizing it. And before you know it you are down with any of these health conditions, especially for those with sickle cell anemia.  Oxygen in blood is usually reduced in extremes of temperatures, like cold. Thus, patients with Sickle cell anaemia should take precaution and keep warm as much as possible to prevent a crisis.

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  1. MOISTURIZE – You need to load up on moisturizers. I know you think its all about your skin…no! You need to moisturize your lips, nostrils and feet. These are the worst hit during this season. So keep your lip balm and petroleum jelly very handy. It is also advisable to wear sunglasses to protect the eye from dust.

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  1. WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY – Hand-washing is an easy way to prevent infections and diseases related to this season, as it would prevent you from getting sick and spreading illness. As you touch people, dusty surfaces and objects throughout the day, you accumulate dirt and germs on your hands; you can infect yourself with these germs when you touch your eyes, nose or mouth. So, frequent hand washing is a lifesaver this harmattan period.

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SAFETY

Besides the health hazards, the harmattan also brings with it other challenges like fire outbreak at the slightest ignition, causing destruction of lives and property and reduced visibility for water, land and air travellers. This too results in accidents where lives are lost.

There is need to take more preventive measures during harmattan.

Precautions:

  1. AVOID BUSH BURNING – Farmers should avoid bush burning because it is more difficult to curtail the rage of the fire during harmattan. Not only farmers, all of us. We should avoid burning anything for now.

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  1. WATCH THE FIRE: Whether it is a gas cooker, stove, candle lantern, we need to be extra careful with the flames in this season. Also be careful with electrical appliances…switch them off when not in use, especially Air Conditioners. It is a lot more difficult to contain any fire outbreak at this time. Fire outbreaks are not pleasant at any time…it is ten times worse now!

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  1. DON’T STORE FUEL AT HOME – Even though it has become a consistent trend to witness artificial scarcity of petroleum product towards the end of the year, thereby putting people under pressure to buy and store petrol at home or office. Since we experience the most destructive fire outbreaks during this period, it is safer to avoid keeping petrol stored in containers at home. It is better to be safe than sorry!
  1. TRAVEL SAFE – The harmattan season isn’t clement on transportation either. Be it by air, road or on water, traveling could be very hazardous during this season due to impaired visibility, resulting in the loss of many lives. So stay safe and avoid long trips if you can. If you are driving, drive carefully!

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Let’s all endeavor to adopt these strategies and remain healthy and safe during the harmattan season. Cheers!