How to survive the harmattan season in Nigeria

It’s that time of the year again when the dry air attacks our nostrils, there’s dust everywhere and the skin tends to get ashy quickly.

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The harmattan season is characterised by dry, draughty air, dust and cold. Heres how to survive the intense weather.

The season of Harmattan, from Twi word haramata, originates from the dry and dusty harmattan trade winds which blows from the Sahara desert over West Africa. It usually comes between the end of November and the middle of March. Visiting Nigeria for the first time during this period might give a whole different experience so here’s all you need to know about Nigeria’s two seasons.

In some parts of Nigeria, such as Lagos, harmattan can hardly be felt during these periods. However, in places closer to the Sahara/Gulf of Guinea which are in the direction of the wind, harmattan effects can be quite severe. For many states, harmattan is characterised by very cold temperatures, especially in the mornings/nights and very hot weather in the afternoons. The humidity also drops really low and the air is dusty. This means the skin has a tendency to dry up quickly and the wind can be very assaulting to the respiratory system.

Here are some tips on how to survive harmattan.

  1. Stay hydrated
    It’s normal to become dehydrated and get thirsty very easily at this time, so avoid carbonated drinks at and juices but rather drink at least 1.5 liters of water every day as this will help keep your whole body system working properly.

  2. Adjust outfits
    The weather is usually really bright and hot in the afternoon but could get very cold at night. To be on the safer side, put on warm clothing when going to bed at night or when going out in the mornings. You can loosen up your clothes as the day heats up.

  3. Take vitamin C
    This will help to reduce the likelihood of you contracting the flu otherwise known as catarrh. As there are dust and cold everywhere, taking vitamins generally will help combat the negative effects they could have on the body.

  4. Moisturise
    Let your lip balm and moisturiser/petroleum jelly/oil be your best friends. Always have a lip balm and moisturiser in your bag, pocket or somewhere easily accessible. Apply the balm on your lip and the moisturiser on the skin when any of them are starting to get dry.

  5. Be careful with fires
    Fires tend to get aggravated during harmattan. Avoid burning indiscriminately and if you have to burn anything, make sure it is attended and well monitored. Most fire accidents happen in this season because everywhere is dry and the fire can travel easily without restrictions.

  6. Avoid dusty areas
    For asthmatic patients, the dusty winds of harmattan can trigger attacks. This is why they should stay away from dusty areas and have their inhalers on them at all times. Wearing a nose/face mask is advisable during this period when one has to have contact with dusty environment.

  7. Wear protective hairstyles
    For Nigerian females who mostly have 4c hair, harmattan can be terrible for the tips. It can cause dry tips and hair breakage. Wear hairstyles that keep your ends hidden such as braids, tie scarves and keep hair moisturised.

  8. Avoid flying
    Flights tend to get cancelled or rescheduled a lot during harmattan due to intense haze. Avoid flying if you don’t need the hassle and go for other means of transport instead

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