If you live in Saudi Arabia or the GCC, then I am sure you have faced the Sandstorm season. If you have children or little babies, then you must know how difficult it can be to keep them safe and healthy during this time. I am sharing a few tips today, that I have learnt over the years.
This post is sparked by the fact that we, in Jeddah, have been hit by a sandstorm the past few days. The predictions are that there will be more to these ‘yellow’ days. If you are a parent with little children, like me, I am sure you are worried too.
I didn’t send my children to school yesterday even though schools were active. The sandstorm is moving in from the north, they said and although, in other parts of the country, schools have been closed, we are still going. I just had this ‘mother-sense’ that the storm would get here. I was right. By 8am, the visibility was blurred. I was so glad, my little children were inside warm and safe.
My eldest has bronchitis and it quickly gets out of hand. The toddlers already have runny nose and itchy eyes. My allergies have been ailing me too. I knew that a storm was coming.
I have always been allergic to dust. I am not sure, if it is because I was brought up here in the Middle East, but it seems to be common in kids here. Allergic Rhinitis, Bronchitis, Asthma… respiratory ailments are very common in this region. One of the reasons is because most of us live in apartments. The air is confined; we are always in air-conditioning and most houses have carpets on their floors. There is no place for air to circulate. The germs stay indoors and even if everything is closed, there will still be a fine layer of dust on objects. Imagine what happens if you have a little baby crawling about…
Tips to Stay Healthy During The Sandstorm Season
In the past few years, taking care of my children, I have learnt that there are quite a few ways in which you can reduce the chances that your child will fall sick. A few preventive steps can go a long way in ensuring the over all well being of our families.
Here are a few tips that have worked for me. I hope you can apply them to your family as well.
- 1) Stay Indoors. Stay indoors as much as possible during sandstorms. Keep the windows and doors closed. Don’t send your children to school if you can avoid it. Unfortunately, the sandstorm season (March-April) is also the exam season in the Middle East. Most schools do give a fair warning and the Ministry helps by declaring holidays. If your child is asthmatic, inform the school and take a leave. If it is a must, send them with a dust mask.
- 2) Reduce exposure to common allergens. Sand is not the only trigger. Allergens like perfume, Oud, strong smell detergents as well as fabric softeners too can make your child sick. I always take precautionary measures that my children are not exposed to these.
- 3) Check weather and pollution forecasts. It is recommended that Asthmatics regularly check daily weather and air quality reports, especially during the sandstorm season. Tuning in to your local weather station or downloading the WeatherApp can help you plan ahead and manage daily activities.
- 4) Clean air conditioner vents. Living in a hot climate country means we are indoors more often and use air-conditioning regularly. Dust collected on air conditioning vents can be a harmful trigger if not cleaned and checked regularly. Air conditioning units need to be regularly maintained and cleaned every six months to avoid accumulation of dust in ducts and vents.
- 5) Use an air-purifier. An air purifier can help reduce indoor pollution and help you breathe better. Although air purifiers are by no means a cure for asthma, they help to remove the allergens and particles which can trigger symptoms by directing air through a filter. If you are asthmatic, an air purifier can help you breathe more easily by improving indoor air quality.
- 6) Consider wearing a face mask if your outdoors. As I mentioned earlier, using a medical face mask or a wet towel during sandstorms helps prevent inhaling the dust particles. These face masks are easily available at any Pharmacy but be sure to ask for a ‘dust mask’ not a surgical mask. Do not forget to regularly change dust masks too. They wear with use.
- 7) Stay hydrated. Drink fluids, especially water frequently. The dry air and the dust in the air will irritate your mucous membranes. Drinking water will hydrate your throat and prevent scratchiness. Use a saline spray to clean your nostrils if your nose feels dry or runny. You can even mist your face and eyes if you come in direct contact with dust too often. Gentle eye drops like Refresh Tears helps keep the itchiness away.
- 8) Avoid wearing contact lenses during the season. The tiny dust particles can very easily cause eye irritation. If you rub your eyes with your lenses on then you can even cause serious damage to your cornea.
- 9) Applying a bit of petroleum Jelly inside your nostrils can prevent the drying of your mucosa. Sandstorm season usually causes dry nostrils. As I mentioned above using a saline nose spray can help while sleeping.
- 10) Start Using your Meds. Those with dust allergies, Asthma patients and children with Bronchitis should start using their preventive medications (antihistamines, etc) during the season to prevent their elevating their symptoms.
Here is a bonus tip: It is Chicken Soup season!!! Colds and allergies always mean it is time for the ‘The Natural Penicillin’, aka Chicken Soup! Yes, you have that perfect excuse to feed your family all your chicken soup recipes everyday. 😀 Personally, my kids can have chicken soup every day so… I indulge them. 🙂 They stay healthy, I stay sane. We are all happy. Do try it.
These are just a few of the ways I help my family stay healthy during the Sandstorm season. I hope these tips help your family too. Stay safe and remember me in your prayers! <3
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