With Eid-ul-Azha and the monsoon arriving together, the situation is ripe for disease and safety hazards. In this month’s Ilm o Amal, Shahrezad Samiuddin offers tips for parents and teachers that can help their children stay safe and healthy.

Eid-ul-Azha and the rainy season have arrived together this year. Children can be seen enjoying playing with goats before Eid. This year Karachi is also experiencing a rainier season than usual. This has been a welcome respite from the scorching sun and children are also enjoying splashing about in the rain, however a little precaution regarding safety and hygiene can go a long way to keep children safe.

Precautions During Eid

If you are a parent planning to go to the mandi (cattle market) to buy animals before Eid, avoid taking children along, because cattle, goats, sheep and buffaloes are sometimes carriers of viruses and adult ticks.

In case you don’t have an option and are compelled to take children with you, apply a repellant to your own exposed body parts and that of the child. Apply repellants to the feet, ankles, arms and face. Wear protective clothing which has long sleeves and long trousers, with boots, head coverings and hand gloves and dress children accordingly.

Also wear light coloured clothing and dress your children in light colours too, so ticks can be easily detected and removed.

In case you or a child develops a fever after visiting a tick infested area, contact your doctor immediately.

Precautions for Schools During the Rainy Season

The rainy season is the best time for teachers to inculcate rain safety and healthy habits in their students. Schools can help children develop habits such as washing hands before meals and not biting their fingernails. While students should be reminded of these habits all year round, the monsoon is the season to strictly enforce these because of the propensity for bacteria to thrive.

Following are some ways schools and teachers can help students stay safe and healthy during the monsoon.

1. Protect School Bag Contents: Advise students to protect their school things by putting them in plastic bags before putting them in their school bag. This will help keep their notebooks, pencil case and textbooks dry.

2. Extra Pair of Clothing: Ask parents to send an extra uniform or other dry clothing (depending on your school policy) in case a child/children get drenched in the rain and need to change. In case a child does get wet, ensure that he or she quickly changes into dry clothes.

3. Homemade Food: Food can get contaminated easily during the rainy season. Encourage children to bring home cooked food and avoid street food till the monsoon is over.

4. Sanitise Often: Germs tend to thrive during the rainy season. If possible, encourage students to bring sanitisers and mosquito repellants to school and use them too.

5. Purified Water: The rainy season in our part of the world can lead to a marked increase in waterborne diseases. If your school cannot not offer clean drinkable water to children, tell the students to bring purified water from home and only drink clean water, especially during the rainy season.

6. Area for Wet Items: Designate a special area in the school for wet items. Find an area which doesn’t obstruct a passage and assign it as a place to dry students’ wet items, which will be inevitable.

7. Proper Drainage: Make sure the school’s water pipes and plumbing systems are in working order. Ensure that the drainage system works well and that there is no water pooling anywhere in the school premises. Make sure, cleaning staff is designated to wipe away any dirt and water as soon as possible, so it doesn’t cause slippery floors.

8. Healthy Canteen Food: While the school should encourage children to bring fresh, hygienic, home cooked food, the school canteen staff must be directed to take all precautions to keep the food they are serving fresh and health. The staff should have a clean and dry place to store food. They should also wear gloves while cooking and serving. Extra precautions must be taken to keep the canteen clean during this season.

9. Play Activities: During monsoon the weather is usually the deciding factor for whether students can go out and play. If it rains too much, teachers should restrict children from going out and playing in a wet and muddy field. Ideally the school should have a few board games that can be distributed amongst the classes. However, that is not always possible and you can ask children to bring a few board games from home that they can play if and when it rains outside. This is also the perfect time to teach them paper games such as Naughts and Crosses and Name, Place, Animal, Thing.

Use these tips when your city is affected by the vagaries of the rainy season. Schools can include some of these tips and even send out a monsoon advisory as a text message or a circular to parents, advising them on how to keep their children safe and healthy during this season.

Shahrezad Samiuddin works at TRC. She is also a journalist with a special interest in traditional and new media. She has written features pieces in Dawn on various issues, including on the media. For almost a decade, Shahrezad has been writing the Auntie Agni column in Dawn. She writes on a variety of subjects for Aurora, the Express Tribune, The Herald (Dawn group) and The Indian Express. She has also co-authored a book on Pakistan for young readers called, Pakistan: Castle with a Thousand Doors.

September 2017