Stay Safe During the Harmattan

About risks & precautions during the dust winds

The phenomenon explained

What is the Harmattan?

Like the well known spring, summer, fall and winter seasons, major parts of Africa are only defined in the wet and the dry seasons. Especially in the dry season – from November till March – many people in the African region experience the so called Harmattan dust winds.

This phenomenon is characterized by bursts of cold air in the mornings and nights and high temperatures at noon. The Harmattan is a result of sand and dust particles being lifted into the atmosphere from the Sahara.

The Harmattan not only reaches the neighboring countries of the Sahara, but even reaches Europe and America. When these harmattan dust moves in the air, people basically inhale their pollutants into their bodies and have them deposited on their skin and in eyes.

Once inhaled this dust can cause a break out of respiratory illnesses, from coughs and sore throats, to more serious complaints such as bronchitis, and asthma. It can also cause meningitis because of increased heat at noon and in some cases these dust increases infant and child mortality.

With the knowledge we have now, there is the need to take care of oneself during this season. Here are a few steps to Stay Safe During the Harmattan that can be taken;

Stay safe During the Harmattan

It's all about precautions

Practical Safety Tips

  • Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
  • Wash your face regularly to avoid red eyes which is common during harmattan season.
  • Wear a facemask to protect your nose and mouth from harmful dust particles.
  • Reduce outdoor activities, especially if you have allergies. This will help you avoid dust inhalation of harmful particles blown in with the wind.
  • Wear clothes that keep your body warm especially late at night and early in the morning.
  • Your hair matters now. Add moist and oil it more often. If possible cover it when outdoors to avoid breakage. For ladies, this is the period to make protective styles.
  • Get home remedies if you have red, itchy, and watery eyes, running, itchy, sneezing, and stuffy nose. Get medical attention if symptoms persists.
  • Keep the doors and windows closed to avoid the house being flooded by dust.
  • Clean surfaces and corners as often as possible.
  • Always use moisturizers to prevent dry skin which can cause breakage. Read the label to ensure the moisturizer is good for your skin.
  • Use lip balm (non-scented) to prevent cracked lips.
  • Avoid burning during this period. If you must, burn in a controlled environment. 

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