Need some respite? Head to air-con shelters at all CCs

Madam Chua Geok Keow, 65, and grandson Louis Lim, seven, receiving a WeCare pack from Jurong GRC MP Tan Wu Meng and grassroots volunteers in Clementi yesterday. The pack has items such as N95 masks and instant noodles.
Madam Chua Geok Keow, 65, and grandson Louis Lim, seven, receiving a WeCare pack from Jurong GRC MP Tan Wu Meng and grassroots volunteers in Clementi yesterday. The pack has items such as N95 masks and instant noodles.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

Residents who need respite from the haze can head to their nearest neighbourhood centre for some air-conditioned comfort.

The People's Association (PA) said yesterday that all 108 community centres and clubs (CCs) islandwide will function as haze shelters and stay open until midnight every day.

Residents' Committee (RC) centres will also be open until 10pm.

"During this period, vulnerable residents and students may need respite from the haze or an environment conducive for their school work revision, so designated air-conditioned areas have been set up as haze shelters in all centres," said a PA spokesman.

Should the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) climb further and hit hazardous levels, or above 300, the CCs will operate all night.

As of 3pm yesterday, 30,000 vulnerable and needy Singaporeans made their way to their nearest community centres to collect free masks given out by the Government.

Some MPs visited the homes of elderly people and those with mobility problems to distribute them.

Fifteen-year-old Nur Fatiha Abdullah received the masks with her 12-year-old brother while at home from Dr Tan Wu Meng, an MP for Jurong GRC, yesterday. She said: "My dad and I have asthma and we have been breathless recently, so the masks will be useful."

Her 69-year-old father works as a cleaner and was unable to collect the masks for the family.

Ms Indranee Rajah, an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, also distributed masks to residents there yesterday. She said having haze shelters is crucial, particularly for residents in rental flats who do not have air-conditioning at home and who may suffer from respiratory problems.

"In the community, the most important thing is to have the haze shelters, so that if people really cannot cope with where they are, at least there will be a place they can go to," she said.

Veteran volunteer Fion Phua and her band of 17 helpers have been patrolling the streets more often at night since the haze started, to look for people sleeping at void decks or along the streets.

"We are trying to understand why they are sleeping outside, even in this hazy condition, and we refer them to shelters," said Ms Phua, founder of volunteer group Keeping Hope Alive. She also tries to persuade these people to freshen up at nearby CCs or RC centres.

The other group of people who are hard hit by the haze are residents living in nursing homes, as most of these are not air-conditioned. To ensure that their residents remain comfortable, some have activated contingency plans.

St Andrew's Nursing Home, for instance, has set aside four air- conditioned rooms for residents who are asthmatic. Their health condition is monitored by staff every other hour.

Good Shepherd Loft and Peacehaven nursing homes have also stopped all outdoor activities such as outings and therapy sessions.

"Activities will resume only when the PSI is under 100," said Peacehaven executive director Low Mui Lang. "We are cautious because we are dealing with the elderly here."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2015, with the headline 'Need some respite? Head to air-con shelters at all CCs'. Print Edition | Subscribe