As it seems, the politicians have done their part, and all are at the mercy of the fire starters in the land of Sumatra, to decide as & when they choose to extinguish the ongoing inferno.
Based on the escalated trend for PSI, PM2.5 & AQI readings, it seems the recent talks have fallen on deaf ears. Sure, many are upset and distressed by the ongoing situation, while the doom & gloom continues to loom. The sun is barely visible (by day), nor the moon & stars by night.
Meanwhile, much hype is drummed up towards the massive scramble to acquire the N95 mask, said to be effective protection against the microscopic pollutants in the air. However, I’m dismayed that no education of any sort is ongoing to teach the public on how to adequately protect themselves. It is evident that many have been wearing their masks improper, and they’re health is inevitably compromised despite owning a mask!
Seriously, what is the point of grabbing a mask but not getting proper protection from the pollutants?
Here are some examples of how the defense is compromised.
While the N95 masks are quickly sold out and slow to be re-stocked, while retailers are rationing & limiting the quantities per person eligible, all hope is not lost.
People don’t know what they don’t know, so here am I to shed some light on the situation.
And I hope if you are reading this and care about the people around; would do your part in sharing this article.
Do not despair if you can’t get your hands on the over-hyped N95 masks. They are generally larger and cannot fit our Asian facial structures snugly, the gaps are indicative that your defense is compromised. The fact that you can still smell the burning scent is another indicator that there is seepage somewhere.
In times like these, do not dispose what you already have, since resupply is limited.
If you already have a disposable mask, regardless if it’s touted to be good or moderate, a slight act of innovation can go the extra mile.
Use disposable wet tissue napkins, fold it in half, and let the existing mask hold the wet napkin against your nostril & mouth. This added layer should help to seal some of the prevailing gaps, while the moisture of the napkin helps to trap some of the dust particles.
Given the worsening conditions over the past 48hours, it will become necessary for you to get a proper respirator, because soon, your disposable masks will be rendered inadequate.
If you have the budget to do so, you may wish to acquire a full face respirator, so that your eyes are protected, and your air is filtered through industrial grade filter cartridges. Understandably, there may be shortfall in supplies for the full face respirators, so, half face respirators would have to do for now.
You probably won’t know what type of filter cartridge is adequate, so you will have to consult the retail assistance for recommendation (seeing that the pollutants are microscopic, I personally recommend the use of cartridges against organic vapor).
In an instance, you will know the difference because the burning scent is blocked out totally.
CAUTION: Your eyes & the rest of your face are exposed, so if you experience irritation, do not use your hands to rub, because of dust contamination settling on your skin. The correct thing to do is to visit the nearest rest room, use wet napkins to wipe your face in a single motion (do not rub), run your eyes under the running tap if necessary. It is good practice to wipe the rest of your exposed body parts as well.
If you perspire a lot, you’re at greater risk of having particles settling on your skin, and you may wish to wear long sleeve clothes and/or hooded raincoat to minimize exposure.
Eye protection is also necessary, since it is somewhat linked to the sinus region. Swimming goggles provide water tight seal, and is a sure bet against dust. You may also consider the use of motorcycle/ cyclists goggles, since they were made to protect riders form dust too. Some sportsmen sunglasses provide all round protection as well, but may not be sealed against the skin, and so you’re still exposed to the microscopic particles.
The best form of protection is by all means, to stay indoors, seal your windows using wet towels, but provide some gaps so that air can still pass, and you will not suffocate.
At present, nobody is declaring stop work order. Neither does it seem likely, that they will declare a state of emergency. Nobody can protect you except yourself. So, if you are feeling unwell, please visit your nearest clinic and/or hospital to seek medical attention.