How To Withstand Harmattan Season In Nigeria
Seasons are periods of the year with distinct weather conditions and day lengths. West Africa and Nigeria in particular has two major seasons in a year – rainy and dry season. Nigeria has a tropical climate with variable rainy and dry seasons, depending on location. It is hot and wet most of the year in the southeast. Every season in weather or in life require an adaptive strategy in order to cope with the excesses or lack in a particular condition. Surviving extreme weather conditions entails good knowledge of the hazards and benefits. Even though we experience harmattan in Nigeria, many people do not anticipate the weather, prepare for it nor take necessary precautions when it has finally arrived.
Incidentally, many people do not take care until they find themselves in a disaster. Many Nigerians are already having catarrh, running nose and some students experienced nose bleeding at a slightest stretch. Red eyes started early in November but most people are not introspective nor very concerned. Parents on their part, have a huge responsibility to shelter and protect young ones especially in harsh weather conditions and this is why we must take care to observe seasons.
The Harmattan is a season in West Africa that occurs between the end of November and the middle of March. It is characterized by the dry and dusty northeasterly trade wind, which blows from the Sahara over West Africa into the Gulf of Guinea. It usually carries large amounts of dust, which it can transport hundreds of miles out over the Atlantic Ocean. The dryness of this weather condition often affects each individual in a unique way especially those with an underlying health condition. We can compare harmattan to winter in the West due to humidity and lesser density.
However, with some preparation and knowledge, you can navigate this period comfortably and healthily. We can always take into account practical tips and tricks to help you withstand the Harmattan. During this period, illnesses like cold, catarrh, cough are common and this is as a result of the cold weather and the dusty nature of the atmosphere. Traveling long distances on a motorcycle (Okada) without any protective nose mask can get your airways infected or any of the upper respiratory tract infections. Therefore, there would be increase in asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, neuralgia and conjunctivitis.
Expectantly, the Harmattan comes to the northern Nigeria with dry stormy wind and a freezing cold of less than 5°C. Most of telecommunications giants in Nigeria offer poor services at this time due to atmospheric weather and climatic conditions. Ensure your car is in good condition, as the harmattan can affect vehicle performance. Check the engine, tires and lights regularly. It is advisable to protect our furniture, electronics with dust cover to prevent dust buildup.
Decisively, it is advised to increase water intake (at least 2-3 litres of water per day), wear long sleeves and pants to shield the skin or even use scarves, hats to cover hair and face. We can wear protective eyewear to shield the eyes from dust and debris. Using mild soaps and moisturizing creams, oil and petroleum jelly even on our lips to combat dryness and prevent chapping. Rinse your face and nasal passages with lukewarm water regularly, especially, after being exposed to dust. Moisturize your nasal passages with saline drops to prevent dryness and irritation. Temperatures may be warm but might decrease in the middle of the night hence the need for sweaters. Asthmatic patients and those with allergies should take proper care and handling of the inhalers, prescribed medications.
Again, we must consume a balanced diet rich in vitamins and nutrients to boost our immune system; minerals to fight off infections and overall health during the harmattan season. Always monitor weather reports for updates on harmattan conditions. Consult your doctor for specific advice on managing pre-existing respiratory or skin conditions. Stay indoors when the harmattan is severe to reduce exposure to dusty air. Ensure proper ventilation in your home while using air purifiers and humidifiers. Get adequate rest and sleep to help your body cope with the seasonal changes. Remember, preparation and awareness are key to enjoying this unique period.
Finally, we must avoid bush burning and be mindful of how we handle highly inflammable substances because everywhere is dry. Limit processed foods and sugary drink which can dehydrate and weaken your immune system. Drinking too much alcohol will make you feel warm even though you are losing heat. The magic wand to preventing adverse effects on your health and safety is to protect yourself, home and environment. We can always enjoy the harmattan season whether sunny, rainy, windy, stormy or cloudy. The Harmattan season come with a lot of tropical fruits which we would patiently partake of. As we think of celebrating Christmas which comes in December, we equally plan of how to withstand the harmattan season.
Obiotika Wilfred Toochukwu
St. Patrick’s Catholic Church
Awgbu – Anambra State.
Photo Credit: punchng.com