Cool weather spurs heart-warming acts of kindness

Restaurant owner Francis Ng will be distributing blankets to those sleeping on the streets on Jan 12. PHOTO: COURTESY OF FRANCIS NG

SINGAPORE - The weather may be a little cooler, but acts of kindness by people here will warm your heart.

Restaurant owner Francis Ng, for one, will be distributing blankets to those sleeping on the streets on Friday night (Jan 12).

"I'm afraid they will be cold," said Mr Ng, 44. Last week, he had chanced upon an old man shivering at a void deck in Chinatown. The sight moved him, and he bought a blanket for the man the next day.

"But as I walked around, I saw many old people sleeping on the streets, so I bought 10 more blankets for them. But it wasn't enough."

That was when he decided to buy 100 more blankets to distribute to the seniors there.

Mr Ng, who is doing the distribution alone, said he hopes to distribute the blankets over the next few days. "Some of the homeless also move from place to place to avoid social workers, so they might also be difficult to find," he said.

Temperatures in Singapore hit a low of 21.7 deg C in certain parts of the island on Friday morning, as a monsoon surge over the South China Sea continued to bring in cool air from the winter chill in the northern hemisphere.

While some people are enjoying the cool, others more used to the tropical heat have felt the dip in the mercury.

The winds and rain here have led some to break out their winter wear. Some people have already been spotted donning quilted winter vests and thick hoodies as they went out and about their daily tasks.

But even as many enjoy the uncharacteristic cool in tropical Singapore, some senior citizens are taking precautions by keeping their windows and doors shut, and avoiding showers.

Welfare organisations are lending a hand. Senior-care associates from Touch Community Services, for example, have been giving sponge baths to seniors who request one.

Mr Kavin Seow, senior director for the elderly group under Touch Community Services, said the organisation is also keeping closer tabs on senior citizens who may suffer from health issues due to the cold weather, and are unable to leave their home to buy groceries.

"These vulnerable seniors may need extra help during this period," he said. "Our staff have been advising our home-bound frail seniors during their home visits to keep themselves warm."

More people have been down with the common cold and flu too, with doctors reporting an uptick in the number of patients coming in with these symptoms.

Dr Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious diseases physician at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, urged those feeling under the weather to wear a mask to prevent spreading viruses.

And for those looking to avoid catching a chill, Dr Michael Wong, family physician at Raffles Medical, said maintaining a healthy lifestyle, such as eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep, will help. Washing hands and disinfecting kitchen and bathroom countertops will also help minimise exposure to viruses.

Mount Elizabeth's Dr Leong agreed, saying: "These measures protect not only from influenza but colds as well. And this is exactly what we do in hospitals to keep us safe."

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