Singaporeans may be used to hot weather, but they are still feeling the heat from the record dry spell that is likely to persist into the first half of March. We look at how some people have changed their daily routine to cope with the weather.
1. "To go" is the way to go
Some are choosing to pack their favourite chicken rice or char kway teow home, instead of eating at hawker centres.
Hawker Kristen Choong, who runs Ji Ji Wanton Noodle Specialist at Hong Lim Food Centre, said there has been a noticeable increase in the number of people ordering takeaway meals during lunch hour. But she added: "The timing of people coming in during lunch is the same, as lunch hours are fixed."
Marketing manager Jereen Leow, who works in Shenton Way, is among those who are choosing to eat in the comfort of their air-conditioned offices - even though the average temperature for February has been 31.9 deg C, the same as the usual average for the month.
Said Ms Leow, 32: "Usually I enjoy going out for lunch as it's a precious mid-day break to unwind. But now I just buy my food and can't wait to rush back to the office."
Some eating places with no air-conditioning are also seeing a drop in patrons. A worker at Yi Fan Restaurant in Toa Payoh, which uses only fans, said: "Business this week is about half compared to last week because of the weather."
2. Cooling drinks are hot right now
It seems one man's bane is another's boon. Sellers of cold beverages and cooling drinks, such as herbal tea, are getting more customers who are eager to quench their thirst.
"There has been about a 10 per cent increase this month in people buying herbal tea due to the hot weather," said Mr Lee Ming Li, manager of Quan-Li Tonic in Toa Payoh. Added a drinks seller at Chang Cheng Mee Wah coffee shop: "There are definitely more people buying cold drinks now. Business is up about 20 per cent since it started getting so hot."
3. The not-so-great outdoors
The unusually dry weather has deterred some from outdoor activities. Mr Simon Tan, 57, manager of Cycle Max at East Coast Park, said that business has fallen by about 10 per cent compared with January.
The bigger crowd blunts the drop in earning on weekends, so business is affected most on weekdays, even in the evenings when it is supposedly cooler. "We've started a promotion - a one-for-one promotion, where you rent one hour and get one hour free," he said.
Still, not everyone is cutting back on exercise. Civil servant Eddie Long, 28, said: "I ensure that I am properly hydrated before heading out for a run, and make a conscious effort to run slightly later in the evenings when it is cooler." Other than drinking more water, he is also hitting the gym more often. "I have substituted other forms of exercise that can be done indoors to get my cardio fix," he said.
4. Under the weather - literally
Singaporeans have to take extra care of their health in this prolonged dry season. Dr Philip Koh, the medical board chairman of Healthway Medical Group, said that there is usually a 10 per cent spike in people coming down with flu-like symptoms during the Chinese New Year period. But the numbers have not dropped this year despite the end of the festivities, he said. "The dry weather is probably one of the main factors."
The senior family physician, who emphasised the importance of drinking enough water throughout the day, said: "When we are indulging in New Year goodies, we remind ourselves to drink water. But now that visiting is over, we forget to do so."
Similarly, Dr Chua Ee Fang of the Chua Ee Fang Acupuncture Centre in Changi Road, said she has seen about 20 per cent to 30 per cent more patients who were down with colds, sore throats and cough in the past three weeks. The traditional Chinese medicine physician said that these ailments are usually associated with dry weather.
"People are still eating the Chinese New Year goodies left over from the holiday and this adds to the ill effects of the dry weather," she said.
To avoid a trip to the doctor, she advised, people should consume drinks like barley, chrysanthemum tea and fruit juice to keep their immune system up. But it is not easy to keep healthy in current conditions, she said. "I am having a bit of a sore throat myself," she said.
5. Local greens may cost more
Prices of local produce may go up if rain does not come soon.
According to reports, many farms here said they have had to increase their water consumption significantly because of the dry spell.
A spokesman for hydroponics farm Blooms & Greens was quoted by MyPaper as saying that the farm now has to water the plants in its nursery thrice a day instead of twice. On top of that, the farm is also using an automated irrigation system for about an hour every day. As a result, operation costs has jumped by about 20 per cent.