8 things that will help you survive dust storms

If you are driving when the storm starts, stop.

 |  3-minute read |   04-05-2018
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The newest entrant in the list of climate worries choking north India is dust storms.

Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Western Uttar Pradesh recently found themselves in the midst of a massive dust storm accompanied by rain and thunder. The storms were powerful enough to kill more than 100 people, and destroy homes and infrastructure. At least 160 animals in Uttar Pradesh died, and the death toll is still on the rise.

What is more worrisome is the storms are far from over. According to reports, the Meteorological Department has forecasted more high winds, dust storms and isolated thunderstorms in the affected areas in the next five days. Hemant Gera, an official with the Rajasthan disaster management and relief department, said a yellow-category warning had been issued for the state for the next five days.

Should such storms hit again, what should one do to be prepared, other than marking oneself "safe" on Facebook?

1. If you’re from north India, you’re likely to own a mask — back from the smoggy winter days. Masks such as these, which protect you from particulate matter, should be kept handy. And if you don’t own one, it’s a good time to get hold of one.

2. In case you don’t have a mask and find yourself out in the open during a dust storm, protect what’s most important first: your eyes, nose, ears and mouth. Use whatever cloth you have to cover your face and avoid inhaling the dust. Your skin can survive the dust but inhaling it is dangerous. Dust can also damage your eyes, and it's important to protect them however you can. This is why you should carry a pair of glasses or goggles.

3. Find shelter. Or at least position yourself on the leeward side. That way, you might be able to avoid coming into direct contact with a lot of dust.

4. If you are driving when the storm starts, stop at a safe place and wait for the storm to pass. Dust storms severely affect visibility which increases the risk of road accidents. Also, keep windows closed. Air conditioning instead of fresh air will keep you safe for a change.

5. Lay low. Or hide behind sturdy walls. High intensity winds have the potential to carry heavy objects. Dust or sand may not hurt your skin, but a rock definitely might.

6. If you are asthmatic, or have dust allergies, you should never step outside without your inhalers and medicines.

7. In case dust gets into your eyes, don’t rub them. You may end up causing more damage.

8. And last but not the least, always carry water. It is essential to be hydrated when caught in the eye of a storm.

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