Each New Year is welcomed with blasts of firecrackers and flamboyant merrymaking. Accompanied by this occasion, is the infamous Harmattan season, ‘a dry dusty easterly or north-easterly wind on the West African coast that occurs from December to February’.
Taking into consideration the adverse effects of this dry season, it is prudent as a parent to adopt some precautionary measures to ensure good health for your whole family.
More water?: Since the harmattan is a dry season, the rate of dehydration is high. As a result, it is best to see to it that your kids are well-hydrated. Much fluid, especially water, is needed to replenish and maintain the body fluid balance in your children. It is also advisable that you avoid giving children carbonated drinks since their high sugar contents prevent the body from absorbing water. At least the routine eight cups of water a day or more is enough to keep your child going throughout the day.
Too much outdoor play?: Children are known to exhibit an uncontrolled, high level of hyperactivity. With that in mind, try as much as possible to limit outdoor ‘dangerous’ play to prevent too many injuries. Also, minimizing the outdoor activities of children during the Harmattan can reduce the amount of dust they are exposed to which could lead to respiratory infections.
Are kids fully covered? : One ‘notorious’ feature of the Harmattan is the strong wind that accompanies it. These strong winds increase the likelihood of acquiring respiratory infections such as cold, pneumonia, severe coughing and bleeding nose. Children, especially babies, usually fall victim to these health conditions due to the vulnerability of their immune systems. It is therefore important that you keep them in warm, thick clothes like sweaters, scarves and socks to guard them against the cold weather.
Don’t go without moisturizers: Dry lips and skins are usually predominant during this period. Due to this, regularly apply lotions and creams to parts of your child’s body that are at the mercy of the weather (palms, elbows, knees, legs, feet, arms, heels, etc.) to prevent dry and cracked skin. For the older kids, constantly remind them to carry along their moisturizers and use them often during the day. Also, provide them with lip balms, preferably shea butter to avoid dry and cracked lips.
Do they have their medications with them? : During the harmattan season, children with respiratory disorders such as asthma and bronchitis become very vulnerable and are advised to keep their medications close to them. Asthmatic children, for example must always have their inhalers with them in case they suffer a relapse. As a parent, double-check, if possible triple-check that your kids always have their inhalers with them in case they suffer a relapse.
Once your child starts exhibiting symptoms of any respiratory disorder, rush him or her to the nearest health center.
We hope these health tips provide you with the needed assistance to ensure that your child is well-catered for and kept in perfect condition as school readies itself for another academic term.
Eappen, P. (2019). How To Stay Healthy During Harmattan. Retrieved January 3, 2020, from American University of Nigeria: https://www.aun.edu.ng/index.php/campus-life/health-center/health-tips/how-to-stay-healthy-during-harmattan
Ubong, E. (2018, December 4). 5 Important Harmattan safety tips. Retrieved January 3, 2020, from HSEWatch: https://hsewatch.com/harmattan-safety-tips