In Gombe, Har­mat­tan is no re­specter of care­less res­i­dents

Gombe State res­i­dents ex­press their fear for the cold, dry har­mat­tan weather,

The Punch - - PANORAMA - CHIMA AZUBUKE re­ports

Ares­i­dent of Gombe, Chi­jioke Anosike, would give or do any­thing pos­si­ble to ex­change the dry Har­mat­tan winds blow­ing across the state for a spell of warm weather.

In a coun­try where most peo­ple ea­gerly look for­ward to the har­mat­tan sea­son ev­ery year, Anosike seems like the odd man in a large crowd. But he, in an in­ter­view with our cor­re­spon­dent, ex­plained that his dis­like for the dry and cool weather, which some­times can get very cold at night, was due to the fact that it af­fects his health.

“I was once di­ag­nosed with pneu­mo­nia. Since then I have al­ways been scared of cold. I pre­fer the hot weather to har­mat­tan. Dur­ing har­mat­tan, I take my bath with hot wa­ter. I don’t touch any­thing that is cold. This time around, the weather is very cold,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Wikipedia, the har­mat­tan sea­son ush­ers in desert-like weather con­di­tions, low­ers hu­mid­ity, pre­vents rain from form­ing in the clouds and some­times cre­ates clouds of dust or sand which can re­sult in vi­o­lent dust storms. This drop in hu­mid­ity can re­sult in se­ri­ous nose bleed­ing for some peo­ple. The harsh weather can also cause catarrh, cough, pains or headache for oth­ers. In fact, as in­di­vid­u­als vary so does the ef­fects of the har­mat­tan on them.

Dur­ing the har­mat­tan sea­son it is also com­mon to see peo­ple com­plain­ing of dry lips and skin. The weather also in­creases the risk of res­pi­ra­tory dis­eases, just as it height­ens the fear of fire out­breaks.

An­other res­i­dent of Gombe, Mal­lam Abubakar Sadiq, ex­pressed his dis­com­fort with the weather. He com­plained of the in­tense cold, es­pe­cially at night, and how the mois­ture­less weather has left his skin and lips dry.

To keep out the cold, Sadiq has formed the habit of wear­ing more than one shirt and avoids tak­ing his bath reg­u­larly. “I have never been di­ag­nosed with any med­i­cal con­di­tion, but ev­ery morn­ing I am al­ways afraid of tak­ing a shower. I find it dif­fi­cult to wear clothes with­out dou­bling it. I wear three tops most of the time to stay warm. De­spite the fact that the sun shines in day­time, the weather is still very cold,” he said.

In spite of Anosike and Sadiq’s com­plaints, the Com­mis­sioner for Health in Gombe, Dr Ahmed Gana, said the har­mat­tan was not a bad sea­son.

To cope with the dry weather, he added, res­i­dents only need to be cau­tious dur­ing the sea­son.

Gana main­tained that chil­dren and adults need to cover up their bod­ies prop­erly. He said, “There are cold-friendly clothes and there are clothes that or­di­nar­ily trans­mit heat. Wear suf­fi­ciently thick clothes to mod­er­ate the cold tem­per­a­ture. Avoid dust and, if nec­es­sary, wear a pro­tec­tive mask over the nose area.

“Keep warm, es­pe­cially at night and early in the morn­ing. Eat plenty of fruits and veg­eta­bles to boost im­mu­nity. Visit the near­est health cen­tre if nec­es­sary.”

The com­mis­sioner also noted that op­por­tunis­tic in­fec­tions are com­mon dur­ing the sea­son. “The com­mon­est is the flu that oc­curs dur­ing this sea­son. Up­per res­pi­ra­tory tract in­fec­tions are gen­er­ally fre­quent dur­ing the cold hamat­tan sea­son and if not treated can de­gen­er­ate into pneu­mo­nia,” he added.

Also, a con­sul­tant pul­mo­nolo­gist at the La­gos Univer­sity Teach­ing Hos­pi­tal, Dr Uju Ozoh, said that cough­ing and sneez­ing, mostly re­sult­ing from vi­ral up­per-res­pi­ra­tory tract in­fec­tions, are com­mon dur­ing the har­mat­tan sea­son. “Asthma and al­ler­gies also flare up and pa­tients with the chronic ob­struc­tive pul­monary dis­ease may have ex­ac­er­ba­tions. This is worse for very young chil­dren and the el­derly, as well as peo­ple with pre­vi­ous res­pi­ra­tory con­di­tions,” she said.

Ad­vis­ing gov­ern­ment at all lev­els to pave all roads in or­der to re­duce dust, Ozoh added, “See a doc­tor if you have wors­en­ing symp­toms of a res­pi­ra­tory con­di­tion or new on­set symp­toms, such as breath­less­ness or cough. If up­per res­pi­ra­tory tract symp­toms per­sist be­yond a few days, visit the doc­tor.”

Pre­vent­ing fire out­breaks this sea­son

The Chief Fire Su­per­in­ten­dent and Deputy Op­er­a­tions Of­fi­cer at the Gombe State Fire Ser­vice, Mr Sal­ihu Doho, has said the har­mat­tan sea­son does not cause fire out­breaks on its own; they are caused by care­less peo­ple.

Doho noted that prop­erty val­ued at over N100m was lost to fire in­ci­dents in 2018, while the Ser­vice saved about 287 lives.

He said the agency had since dou­bled its ef­forts to min­imise the loss of lives and prop­erty this year.

“Cases of fire out­break have dras­ti­cally re­duced due to our ef­forts to sen­si­tise the peo­ple. If you com­pare what we have ex­pe­ri­enced in the past to the present, you will see that cases of fire out­break have re­duced. Res­i­dents, must as a mat­ter of fact, be very care­ful when han­dling fire in their homes. This will fur­ther re­duce fire re­lated in­ci­dences in the state,” he added.

De­scrib­ing the cir­cum­stances that of­ten lead to fire in­ci­dents dur­ing the har­mat­tan sea­son, Doho said, “Care­less­ness is the num­ber one cause of fire out­breaks. For in­stance, if you have a room heater and you fail to switch it off, when elec­tric­ity is re­stored it may re­sult in a power surge, which could in turn trig­ger off a fire.

“Also some par­ents leave their chil­dren to play with match sticks and you find peo­ple who use can­dles ar­bi­trar­ily with­out plac­ing them on ded­i­cated stands. Peo­ple who pour fuel into their power gen­er­a­tors, with­out switch­ing them off first, also cause fires to break out.”

Ex­plain­ing that fire in­ci­dents are di­vided into var­i­ous classes, he said that for Class A, or­di­nary wa­ter is best tool used in fight­ing it. “Ex­tin­guish­ing medium of fight­ing Class A fire is wa­ter. Among fire ex­tin­guish­ers, there are those that con­tain or­di­nary wa­ter. We have Classes A,B,C,D, for A it in­volves free burn­ing agents like the pa­per. It is re­ally flammable, but with wa­ter, it goes off eas­ily, un­like palm oil that rises when you pour wa­ter on it. For Class B, you need CO2 Gas Ex­tin­guisher or dry chem­i­cal power,” he said.

Doho claimed the state fire ser­vice had been suf­fi­ciently equipped and en­er­gised by Gov­er­nor Inuwa Ya­haya to en­sure that Gombe is free of fire out­breaks dur­ing the har­mat­tan sea­son.

•Truck be­long­ing to Gombe State Fire Ser­vice

•Har­mat­tan haze. Source: al­ter­na­

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