SINGAPORE: Starting on Tuesday, every household in Singapore will receive free N95 masks - right in their mailbox.
That's courtesy of a community programme by Singapore Power, SingPost, and Temasek Cares, the philanthropic arm of Temasek Holdings.
They will be distributing 1.2 million emergency preparedness "starter kits" to homes nationwide from May 6-12.
The next time a haze hits Singapore, there's unlikely to be a last-minute scramble for masks.
Staff at Singapore Power have been volunteering their time getting the 'Stay Prepared' starter kits ready for the power company's meter readers and technicians to deliver to households across the island in one week -- including the weekend.
V S Raju, deputy director of Metering Data Management at Singapore Power, said: "We want to make sure that we reach out to residents, who can actually be at home then, so we can have an opportunity to explain (the programme) to them if there's a need to."
Each starter kit contains three N95 masks. And on the back of the packet are useful numbers -- like the police, civil defence and dengue hotlines -- residents can call in case of an emergency.
The flat, folded masks may be unfamiliar as it's a one-year-old design by technology company 3M.
Helen Foo, general manager of Safety & Graphics Business at 3M Singapore, said: "It's very comfortable and easy to use, and it's flat and easy to store.
"So an N95 mask need not have to be a cup-shaped version. A flat-fold N95 mask can be just as effective as it is."
Organisers said 1.2 million kits will be distributed to reach every household.
Another 17,000 will be delivered to 144 charity homes, while 300,000 more are on standby.
But masks are just a small part of preparing for an emergency, said Temasek Cares chairman Richard Magnus.
"We want every single household to begin to think about 'where do I get additional N95 masks for other members of my family?' And once they form that habit of mind, then it will become intuitive to start preparing for unforseen events in Singapore. That's the intention too," he said.
Postal workers at Singapore Post will deliver the kits to HDB flats and high-rise apartments, while Singapore Power meter readers will cover the country's landed homes.
If kits cannot be delivered to a postal address, residents will receive delivery advice with information on where to collect their kits.
Singapore Power has also set up a hotline (1800-738-2000) for the public to get information about the delivery process. The hotline will operate from May 5 to May 24, 8am to 8pm daily.
Costing some S$4 million in total, the starter kit programme taps into a S$40 million Temasek Emergency Preparedness Fund launched in March. - CNA/de
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