10 health and safety tips to survive a sandstorm

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It is necessary to take basic health and safety precautions during the dusty season in Qatar. Fine particles of dust can irritate the lungs and trigger allergic reactions or asthma attacks.

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High risk groups such as infants, children, teenagers, the elderly, those with a history of asthma, bronchitis, emphysema or other respiratory conditions, people with heart disease, pregnant women, and those who have to work outdoors, such as construction or delivery workers have to be extra cautious.

See the doctors as soon as possible if an infection occurs. Breathing dust over a long period of time can also cause chronic breathing and lung problems.

  1. If you have a respirator or mask designed to filter out small particulates, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, wrap a piece of wet cloth around your nose and mouth.
  2. Protect your eyes. Eyeglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but airtight goggles are better. If you don’t have goggles, shield your face with your arm as you move, then wrap a piece of cloth tightly around your head to protect your eyes and ears.
  3. Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. Even small amounts of airborne dust can cause eye irritation and vision problems for wearers of contact lenses, and dry, hot conditions alone can cause discomfort.
  4. Avoid rubbing your eyes in order to prevent eye infection, which is common during this season. If your eyes become irritated, rinse with water.
  5. Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly (eg. Vaseline) to the inside of your nostrils to prevent drying of your mucous membranes.
  6. Avoid going outside during dust storms, especially during high winds or low visibility when the dust levels are particularly harmful.
  7. When driving, drive more slowly, and pull over during low visibility (100 meters or less), particularly when driving in open areas.
  8. Do not use the hazard lights unless your car is parked on the road. It’s only meant for emergency parking. Use the headlights instead. When your car is parked, turn off the headlights to avoid rear collision.
  9. People who are prone to bad allergies should start using their antihistamines, even before the symptoms start.
  10. Patients who have severe trouble breathing or start coughing green sputum, which means they might have a lung infection, should go to the Emergency Department. These symptoms are also common in asthmatic patients.

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