Singapore haze: Facts and precautions every family should know

The haze in Singapore is an annual occurrence. Do you have all the facts that you need to safeguard yourself and your family against the Singapore Haze? Read this to find out all that you need to know to be prepared.

Singapore haze The Singapore haze makes for a blurred view of the skyline.

We can't help but worry when Singapore is blanketed by haze at certain times of the year. Kids don't get to go out and itchy throats and breathing problems become more common in both adults and kids.

Singapore's haze is definitely a cause for concern. Equip your family with the necessary information and  tools to protect your health.

What is the haze?

According to Singapore Infopedia, the haze is "an air-borne mixture of pollutants that includes soot particles, carbon dioxide and other toxic gases".

It is also a visible "cloud of smoke" that floats in the air and is usually accompanied by a burnt smell.

Singapore haze Schools take precautionary measures to protect the kids when the haze comes. Source: Health Xchange

In Singapore, haze levels are measured by the Pollutant Standard Index (PSI), and the readings classify the state of the air.

100-200 (Unhealthy): In this range, some people may experience mild eye irritation, coughing and sneezing.

200-300 (Very unhealthy): With this very unhealthy level, people may experience more higher degrees of eye irritation, acute coughing and breathing problems.

301-400 (Hazardous): Significant aggravation of symptoms for vulnerable people. Some people may experience the early onset of certain diseases such as breathing disorders like asthma.

Above 400 (Hazardous): Any reading above 400 could actually be life-threatening to elderly folks or sick people.

Why is there haze in Singapore? Find out more on the next page.

Singapore haze Strong winds take the smoke from burning forests and agricultural lands to cause the Singapore haze. Source: Coconuts Jakarta

Why does Singapore experience haze?

The haze predominantly comes from Jakarta, more notably Sumatra and Kalimantan, where farmers practice forest-burning in their agricultural process.

The situation worsens during dry season and periods of low rainfall. June 2013 was a particularly bad year when haze escalated to an all-time high of PSI 401.

When does the haze usually happen?

Due to agricultural patterns and usage of land for farming, the haze in Singapore usually happens between May and October.

However, unexpectedly, it seemed to arrive earlier than usual this year, in January, as reported by the Straits Times.

Where can we get information about the haze?

PSI levels readings, taken every three and 24 hours, are reflected on the top right corner of our television screen during the haze period. The information can also be accessed via the National Environmental Agency (NEA) website.

You can also download the myENV app, available for both Apple and Android devices, for regular updates on the PSI. Check it before planning your activities for the day.

Singapore haze, beat the haze, haze in Singapore myENV app is available for free on iTunes and Google Play Store. Source: iTunes

How can your family beat the Singapore haze? Find out how your kids can be involved too!

How can we take precautions against the haze in Singapore?

Take heed of the haze health advisory by the MOH, which charts down the different precautionary measures that people should be taking.

Singapore haze During the Singapore haze, do take note of the PSI levels and take the necessary precautions for your family's health. Source: Ministry of Health.

How can your family beat the Singapore haze?

#1: Take charge of your health

Your family's health is important. Do make sure your children are drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. Herbs and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are also popular in ensuring one's health. Prepare these easy recipes for your family to protect yourselves from the haze.

#2: Prepare N95 masks

Ensure that your family has N95 masks, which are recommended for its ability to block out fine particles. There are several models of these masks, shown below:

Singapore haze Samples of N95 masks available in Singapore. Source: Ministry of Health

Emergency 101 recommends these masks for "individuals who undertake prolonged and strenuous work outdoors when air quality is in the hazardous range ( PSI>300)."

Also note that the masks should not be used indoors. Elderly people or those with lung or heart conditions should stop using the masks if they experience discomfort or difficulties in breathing. Pregnant women in their second and third trimester should not use the N95 masks for long periods.

Watch this video to learn how to put on the N95 mask correctly.

#3: Improve indoor air quality with air purifiers

Air purifiers help improve indoor air quality by reducing the level of fine particles to an acceptable level when there is haze in Singapore. These portable air purifiers are used indoors, and are connected to an electrical point 24/7 for continuous and efficient air purification.

If you're looking to purchase an air purifier, here are some tips on how to choose the right one for your home.

Singapore haze Should you or your child be asthmatic, always ensure medication is with you.

#4: Know where to go

Should there be symptoms of wheezing, red eyes, or inflammation of respiratory tracts, go to the doctor for medical attention. At hospitals, specific teams are trained and prepared to receive and treat patients who are affected by the haze.

Do ensure that you are aware of the nearest hospital to your home, office, and children's school. We recommend that you keep this list of emergency contacts to medical institutions in Singapore with you.

#5: Stay indoors

When the haze hits an uncomfortable level, stay indoors and especially keep your children inside your home.

Check out these indoor play and activity ideas for your toddlers, preschoolers and even school-going children. For families with pets, you can spend time bonding with your furkids too.

 

Share with us what measures you have taken to keep your family healthy and safe when there's haze in Singapore! Do leave a comment below.