How To Protect Yourself From The Haze

The PSI level hit a record 401 on 21st June. Learn how to protect your health.
In most of Southeast Asia, the haze is an annual occurrence that strikes the region, usually between May and October. It is caused by winds blowing thick smoke containing high concentration of air pollutants from the forest fires in neighboring Sumatra, Indonesia.

In Singapore, the severity of the haze is measured using the Pollutants Standards Index (PSI). The National Environmental Agency (NEA) has begun issuing air pollution health warnings after the PSI reached an "unhealthy" reading of 155 on 17th June 2013. The PSI reading has then hit a "hazardous" level of 401 on 21st June 12pm -- the worst in Singapore's history.

What the PSI readings mean

The PSI readings (3-hourly average) indicate air quality at a given time:
PSI valueAir quality
0 to 50Good
51 to 100Moderate
101 to 200Unhealthy
Reduce vigorous outdoor activity
201 to 300Very unhealthy
Avoid vigorous outdoor activity.
301 and aboveHazardous
Avoid unnecessary outdoor activity.
Source: National Environment Agency

Breathing in an excess of the air pollutants can increase one's risk of developing respiratory problems, including bacterial and viral infections, as well as exacerbate existing conditions such as heart and lung diseases, asthma and eczema.

Follow these tips to protect you and your family from the haze

Stay indoors as much as possible. Children, older adults (aged 65 and above) and people with heart and lung diseases are advised to remain indoors and keep activity levels low.

Keep all doors and windows closed and use the air-conditioner.

Use an air purifier to remove pollutants.

Don't smoke or allow anyone else to smoke at home.

Drink plenty of water to help flush out any toxins that may have entered your system

Wet mop or use a vacuum cleaner in your house and indoor areas, instead of using a broom.

Wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth when you need to go out, especially when the PSI level is in the "unhealthy" range. Look for certified grade N95 masks that are able to keep out fine haze particles in the air.

If you drive, roll up the windows and turn on the air-con.

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