Imagine setting out of your home at 7am to catch a bus to work with your fully starched shirt, designer trousers and newly-bought shoes and it begins to rain.
Your car is bad and has not been fixed. The taxi you called as an alternative has not arrived and you are halfway through your street.
It can be both embarrassing and disastrous, to say the least. In a matter of minutes, one can be drenched from head to toe.
Going back home may not be an option since your appointment is in an hour and you can never be too sure of the traffic.
This was the situation of Mr Nnamdi Mokwe, a Lagos-based customer service representative with a multinational firm.
He told our correspondent how a relatively hot morning turned into a wet day.
“I was not prepared at all. It had rained a few days ago but it was not that serious,” he said.
Mokwe noted that he had a late morning appointment on Lagos Island but he could not make it because he could not get a bus or taxi to take him there because of the rain.
“It was like a nightmare. I had to call the client to cancel. My car was bad and I did not fix it. I was just halfway through my street when, out of nowhere, the skies opened up and let down a downpour.
“By the time I knew what was happening, I was drenched. My suit was ruined. It was one of the worst days of my life because I almost lost my job,” he added.
In Nigeria, especially in the southern part, one can never be too sure about the weather although Nigeria has its seasons split into two – the dry and wet or rainy seasons.
The dry season often begins in late November and runs through January, becomes intense in February and eases down in March till the end of April. Then, the rainy season takes over from April, intensifies from June to August, and runs till October, every year.
The last couple of days have shown that the rainy season is upon us and we should expect more heavy rains.
Three weeks ago, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency urged pilots and passengers to be wary of thunderstorms and other dangerous weather conditions, following the onset of rains.
They stressed that thunderstorms can also cause delays, diversions and cancellations of flights.
NiMet’s General Manager in charge of Public Relations, Muntari Yusuf, also stressed that the agency predicted that rainfall would be earlier than the long-term average in most parts of the country during the 2023 Seasonal Climate Prediction.
Days ago, property worth millions of naira was destroyed by rainstorms in some parts of Akure, the Ondo State capital, and some other towns in the state.
This came some days after a similar incident happened in the Ilara Mokin community, Ifedore Local Government Area of the state.
Some of the areas in Akure affected by the rainstorm included Danjuma, Ayedun, High school and Leo Area.
The rainstorm was said to have also destroyed houses, shops, schools, electric poles, maternity centres and churches in Ore town, Odigbo LGA of the state.
In Bonny Island, Rivers State, the rains started in March and have become an almost everyday occurrence in the area.
An environmental expert, Mrs Chiakala Ubani, and a safety professional, Mr Tami Oringo, noted that there was nothing that could be done to stop the rains but Nigerians can better prepare themselves to face the season with some level of certainty.
They both suggested seven ways to better prepare for the season.
Check forecast before setting out
Ubani stated that one can never be too sure about the season, adding that one must check for how long it would be to get to a particular location from another and the weather conditions in those areas.
“It is the rainy season and living with it, working with it comes with its peculiarities. Being caught in a downpour without an umbrella, or a raincoat leaves you soaking wet. So, it is best one checks the location one wants to go to be sure of the approximate time it would take one to get there and how one can navigate through this.
“There have been times when it would be raining in a particular location but dry in another within the same area. It is not African magic as some think. Using the right Google tools, one would be sure where one should or should not go at a particular time,” she said.
Get durable rain gears
Oringo, a Bayelsa State-based safety professional with an oil and gas servicing firm, stated that it could rain any time with no telling where or for how long, adding that one must prepare for such eventualities.
“Even with weather forecasts, which are only guides, things can go wrong. So, it is best one prepares with whatever one needs to navigate the season.
“Invest in durable and portable rain gear such as raincoats with hoods, umbrellas, ain caps (a shower cap can improvise for ladies) and rain boots or rubber shoes/covers,” he added.
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He also noted that it could get embarrassing for most people who owned cars to get stuck in their vehicles without umbrellas or raincoats to cover them when they get out.
“You can get as many umbrellas as possible. One can be in your car; another in your office or place of business and another in your most frequented relaxation spot. Again, one cannot be too sure with the season,” he added.
Check roofs for leakages
Ubani asked families and companies to bring in a handyman to go to the roof to confirm whether it is safe for the rainy season.
“It may get frustrating when you run away from the rain outside and meet it inside. We have had situations where families would have to set buckets inside their homes because they had no idea the roof was in a bad shape. That can be embarrassing too for office owners.
“Carpenters can do this job. They can spot the holes in the roof and block them off,” she noted.
Oringo, also commenting on this point, added that the checks should be periodic.
“You don’t wait for the rain to start before you call a carpenter or roof man to go up the roof. The dry season is the best time to prepare for the rainy season,” he stated.
Clear out drainage
For Oringo, blocked drainage may be the beginning of a flooded city.
“Most people have made their drainage their waste area. They drop all debris, plastic and the like inside. These things have counter effects. They have a way of falling back to one,” he said.
Before the season, when the drainage may still be dry, Oringo stresses that every home clears out rubbish that may hinder water from passing when the rain eventually comes.
“Ensure water flow points like roof drainpipes and gutters are clear and able to drain water. Clear the gutters and make them as clean as possible. No kind person stuffs their gutters with rubbish anyway.
“If the gutters have no slab, please, put a slab over it so people do not fall into it and get washed off by the flood,” he said.
Drive with caution
“The road gets slippery when it rains so drivers are advised to drive at minimal speed no matter how urgent is their destination,” Ubani said.
She added that oil and grease, because of the rains, are brought to the surface, making it also impossible for the roads not to be slippery.
“Combine that with rushing water in the case of flash flooding, and it becomes a recipe for disaster,” she added.
Oringo advised car owners to get their cars ready for the season.
“Check your car tyres, wipers and electrical system, as driving in rain puts a lot of strain on the alternator and battery.
“Rainproof your car. The rainy season is no time to drive around in a faulty car. So, make sure you take your car to the mechanic and have it checked out. You don’t want to have to deal with a breakdown during a downpour,” he added.
He explained that there might be situations of flashfloods, thunder strikes and other dangers occasioned by the weather, which drivers must be conscious of.
Safeguard your health
The rainy season comes with health concerns like cold, catarrh, waterborne diseases, diarrhoea and malaria from mosquitoes.
Rain forms puddles or stagnant water where mosquitoes breed, hence preventive measures such as the installation of mosquito nets, mosquito coils or sprays and mosquito repellent creams will help prevent the eventuality of malaria as a resultant effect of mosquito bites.
Culture Custodian, an online journal, added that every family should have tablets of Vitamin C during the season as it helps with cold and flu.
“We recommend getting Vitamin C to boost your immune system. You should also add fruits and vegetables that contain Vitamin C to your diet,” the journal added.
“As much as we would love to go out when it rains, the best place to be is indoors. So, make the best of it,” Oringo advised.
Ubani added that families should use the time to bond more.
“You can invest in indoor games with families and limit the way you get in contact with the rain to avoid health and safety hazards,” she added.
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