Protect your tot from the haze

Take sensible steps to keep your little one safe from polluted air.

Protect your tot from the haze
Protect your tot from the haze

The haze is threatening once more — in the mornings, the SmartParents team can smell the burning scent in the air.

Children are especially vulnerable to the polluted air because their immune systems are not yet fully developed. So, look out for these symptoms in your little one.

  • Itchy, watery or red eyes.
  • Runny nose, nose congestion.
  • Dry/sore/irritated throat and dry mouth.
  • Headaches from swollen nasal passageways and congested nose.
  • Breathing difficulties.

Aside from keeping the doors and windows closed at home, and ensuring that your children drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated, Dr Kenny Pang, a Ear Nose & Throat Specialist at Asia Sleep Centre, has this advice for keeping your children safe:

  1. Minimise outdoor activity if the PSI levels above 100 (the unhealthy range).
  2. Avoid outdoor activity if the PSI levels are higher than 200 (the very unhealthy range).
  3. If it is necessary for children to be outdoors, use a mask.
  4. Use HEPA air purifiers at home or in the child’s bedroom ― HEPA filters are effective in trapping allergens and can capture particles as small as 0.3 microns.

He adds, “Keep newborns and infants indoors as much as possible.”

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Photo: INGimage

 

To find out when it’s safe to let junior go outside and play, refer to the following box.

Protect your tot from the haze

Children’s masks

If you plan to go outdoors with your child, you might want to put a mask on him. Local firm Innosparks, an ST Engineering subsidiary, has developed an N95 mask ― the AIR+ Smart mask ― for use by children aged 7 and above. Please note that regular N95s are not made for children's faces and putting surgical masks on children still leaves gaps that allow harmful particles to enter. The AIR+ masks are available at Watsons for $7.20 for a box of three and $29.90 for a rechargeable micro-ventilator (sold separately).

Says Mrs Maria Lee-Figueroa, who put this mask on her son Titus Alexander, “The AIR+ Smart Mask is much smaller than regular N95 masks on the market and fit my child much better. The micro-ventilator makes a huge difference, too, as he doesn’t breathe as hard.”

Kids who are at risk

  • Children with existing respiratory condition especially those with asthma, chronic obstructive lung diseases.
  • Children with existing heart diseases especially those with coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure.
  • Children with existing history of ear, nose and throat problems such as allergic nasal conditions or problem with sinusitis.

Explains Dr Pang, “Children have smaller lungs and smaller airways, hence, kids who are allergic or have sensitive lungs may have an exacerbation of their asthma or even develop asthma symptoms. Due to nasal congestion and runny nose, some children may suffer from poor sleep quality leading to irritability and poor concentration as well as lethargy during the day.”

Raffles Medical Group suggests that asthmatic patients should:

  • Take their preventive meds regularly and ensure that their asthma is well-controlled.
  • Have their medication at hand.
  • Ensure that they have taken their annual flu vaccination.

For updates on the haze, visit the haze website, follow NEA and the Ministry of Health on Facebook or Twitter (@NEAsg) and @sporeMOH) or download the myENV app. For latest information on the haze management measures taken by the Ministry of Education, click here.

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