Dear Nigerian Youth, even as we hope to #EndSARS, it is still important to keep body, soul and spirit together. As you take to the streets in protest against the high-handedness and brutality of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, you must keep in mind some dangers that these actions can pose to your health. While lending a voice to the movement, we must stay as safe as possible.
Here are few mindful of steps you can take to protect yourself while making your voice heard.
- Stay Hydrated!
Make sure you go to the protest ground with bottles of water and make sure you take as much water as possible. Dehydration is not a joke especially considering the fact that you will be trekking long distances under the hot sun. Drink a lot of water.
2. Don’t go on an empty stomach!
Grab a quick breakfast before leaving home, remember the Yoruba adage that says “Okun inu la fin gbe tita” meaning a filled stomach compliments the physical strength. So make sure to grab a few bites before leaving and get some healthy snacks during the protest too. You need all the energy and strength you can to get your voice heard.
3. COVID-19 is not on strike!
It cannot be overemphasized that Coronavirus is still in town. Keep in mind that you are protesting during a PANDEMIC. Social distancing will almost be an impossibility so please, take every other precautionary measures that have been announced to curtail the spread of the virus.
- Wear a mask and a face covering before, during, and after the protest.
- Move around with your sanitizer. Sanitize your hands as many times as possible.
- Wash your hands with soap and water after the protest.
- Keep your sneeze and cough to yourself.
- Wash all items you wore to the protest immediately it ends.
- Finally, if you develop any COVID-19 symptoms in the 14 days following the protests, get tested as soon as you can and self-isolate in the meantime.
4. Know that Violence Could Erupt
This is Nigeria! Please know that the law enforcement agencies could respond strongly with inhuman tactics. This may however be strongly resisted by some of the protesters. There could also pandemonium during the protest. Therefore,
- Wear comfortable clothing; a simple T-shirt, Polo, top, and a pair of jean is advised. If you can, get eye protection items like sunglasses, swim goggles, or gas mask. You can also get an hat to protect you from the sun. Avoid over-dressing. In a protest, less is more.
- Wear shoes you can run with, why? you might need to take to your heels a few times.
- Avoid wearing things which can easily be grabbed like jewelry, ties, loose hair
- Remember, basic First Aid Kit; painkillers, bandages, Inhaler, epipen, insulin are important.
- Wet Wipes and tissue are important too
- Tear gas can cause unpleasant symptoms like stinging and burning in the eyes, as well as, pain in the lungs, headaches, and nausea. When tear gassed, blow your nose, rinse your mouth,
cough & spit. Try not to swallow. Avoid use of oils & lotions because they can trap the chemicals. Go with a bandana soaked in water, lemon juice or vinegar, to cover nose and mouth; it can aid in breathing during chemical exposure. Avoid using contact lens to the protest if you can.
4. Don’t attend the protest with unnecessary items!
Again, less is more. Go with bag small enough for you to move around with, and big enough to contain essentials like phones, keys, wallets, etc. It is also important that when you bring less items, you have less items to disinfect after the protest.
5. Take care of your mental health too!
The health effects of attending a protest where you may be injured, most likely, won’t end with the protesters. There might be lingering mental health effects related to witnessing violence and injuries. Any intense emotional experience like that can trigger some feelings like anxiety, anger, guilt, and many, many other things. It’s, hence, imperative to keep your mental health in check.
In conclusion, Shine your eyes! Open your ears! Walk in groups! Speak up! but keep in mind that “he who fights and run shall live to fight another battle”, person wey motor jam, no dey wait look plate number, STAY SAFE!