If you’re planning a trip to South East Asia in the next six weeks, you might want to think twice. Hazy days in Indonesia are causing Singapore to suffer with nearly unbreathable air quality.
Hundreds of fires are burning in both Sumatra and Kalimantan with smoke and haze converging on Singapore. PSI (air quality levels) are considered “hazardous” by the National Environmental Agency, to the point where all public and most private schools have already been closed for Friday, September 25th. Singapore went into 340+ PSI today, while Kalimantan’s level exceeded 2000. Reports show that the #sghaze will be present through November, hopefully with gradually declining PSI figures between now and then.
Life Goes on
Last weekend the Formula 1 Grand Prix still raced on in Singapore; however, even at that time, neighboring countries had already declared states of emergency.
Some reports say that evacuations have been ruled out, while other show many people are being forced to evacuate their homes in cities close to the fires.
Effects of the Poor Air Quality
Even with levels of 300+ we feel the effects through pain in our throats, lungs and eyes. Headaches are everywhere with no relief in sight. At 2000 or even 500, I can’t imagine staying put, but some people just don’t have the option to leave. It goes beyond the people though. The orangutan population is in dire straits as their homes are being rapidly demolished, and they are suffering the ill health effects of the haze.
There has been a shortage of N95 rated haze masks in Singapore. Uber, showing support for its community, offered a free service for a short window on Thursday called UberHealth. Anybody with the app could choose the service which would have an Uber driver deliver a bag with four (4) N95 masks and some Uber swag. We grabbed ours right away, as even sitting in our home, we might as well be outside. The smell seeps in, no matter how much taping up of your door cracks you do, or placing towels at the bases of your doors.
Sadly, this could all be avoided. Neighboring countries cut and burn dense forest land in order to plant palm trees for the palm oil industry. This year these fires, fueled by an El Niño drought, have gotten out of control. Despite Singapore’s attempts to offer assistance, Jakarta has declined any support offered.
Here are some photos from today, 24th of September, just to give you a peek at what Singapore is like right now at 317 PSI.