Six ways to enjoy a healthy, stress-free winter
Every winter, the combination of stubble burning in the countryside, dust on the roads and smoke released by factories and bonfires causes pollution to spike across India. We provide some handy tips to help you breathe freely so you can enjoy the season in peace:
- Plan your day : Your local Air Quality Index gives round-the-clock colour-coded information on pollution levels. Use the Index to track the least polluted areas and times of day, and travel accordingly. During winter, these numbers could vary significantly depending on prevailing winds and the pattern of dust and fuel burning in the area.
- Get equipped: If you’re planning a major winter expenditure, try and use it to install air purifiers to cover as much of your house as possible. The clean air consultancy firms will even visit your home, assess pollution levels and suggest placement. When outdoors, invest in a good mask that tracks the contours of your face and has active carbon filters with valves for easier breathing.
- Don't go out at night: Cold air settles, while hotter air rises. When the temperature is low, pollutants tend to clear more slowly, causing higher levels of toxicity in the air, so nights and dawns are most polluted, especially with people lighting small bonfires and burning fuel to keep warm. For the same reason, avoid outdoor exercise in the morning – use a gym or exercise at home.
- Keep your kids indoors Children's lungs are less developed and more vulnerable to damage from the high pollutants and gases concentrated around urban areas in the winter. They also breathe faster and absorb more chemicals than adults and the toxins stay in their body for longer. Limit the time your child spends playing outdoors in the evenings and mornings.
- Limit exposure on the road: When you’re driving, keep the windows closed and set the A/C set to “recirculate”. Take buses instead of rickshaws, which suffer severely in high pollution. Also note which roads have the most pollution. Busy main roads surrounded by tall buildings have the highest pollution. Avoid peak-hour traffic if possible, or else take back roads and smaller lanes.
- Take a break: If you can manage it, the best thing to do is leave your city and head into the countryside, a nearby hill-station, or down to the coast. Hotels and resorts will have special offers for the winter months, and this will help you de-stress and also give you the chance to breathe in cleaner air during your vacation.