New Delhi: With soaring temperatures across different parts of the country, India is bracing for an extreme summer this year. As mercury hovers around 40 degrees Celsius in large parts of the country, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Tuesday (April 18) predicted that heat wave conditions to continue over east India during the next four days and abate thereafter. Heat Wave conditions have been prevailing in isolated pockets over Gangetic West Bengal, for the last seven days; Coastal Andhra Pradesh for the last five days, Bihar for the last four days, Punjab and Haryana for the past two days.
The impact of increasing temperatures is being seen across the country in varied degrees. The death count due to sunstroke at the ‘Maharashtra Bhushan’ award event held on April 16 in Navi Mumbai has risen to 13. Over the weekend, thousands of people attended the Maharashtra Bhushan Award event that the state government had organised. The cheer, however, quickly changed into a panic situation as at least 11 people died from heatstroke after standing in the sun for hours.
In West Bengal, schools, colleges and universities in the state, except in the two hill districts of Darjeeling and Kalimpong, are shut till April 23 due to the prevailing weather conditions.
“People are advised to avoid heat exposure and dehydration”, a senior official of the Bihar Disaster Management Department said. The meteorological department has issued an ‘orange’ alert with a warning of severe heatwave conditions for two days from Tuesday in Patna, Banka, Jamui, Nawada, Aurangabad, Supaul and several other districts of Bihar.
Down South, the Andhra Pradesh State Disaster Management Authority (APSDMA) has forecast severe heat wave conditions in one mandal (an administrative unit) and heat wave conditions in 117 more mandals on Tuesday.
The Meteorological department on Monday issued the season’s first heat wave alert for Jharkhand’s 11 districts for two days from Tuesday, an official said. The mercury might rise above 44 degrees Celsius in a few districts during the next two days.
Abhishek Anand, in charge of Ranchi Meteorological Centre, told the news agency PTI: “Heat wave alert has been issued for 11 districts in three divisions of Jharkhand for Tuesday and Wednesday. The maximum temperature might increase by two to three degrees from the current temperature.”
Jharkhand health department in its recent advisory asked people to drink adequate water, wear light-coloured, loose, cotton clothes and cover the head with a cloth, hat, or umbrella while coming out of the house during the day.
What Is A Heat Wave?
A Heat Wave is a period of abnormally high temperature, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the summer season in the North-Western parts of India, states the National Disaster Management Authority.
According to the IMD, the threshold for a heat wave is met when the maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40 degrees Celsius in the plains, at least 37 degrees Celsius in coastal areas, and at least 30 degrees Celsius in hilly regions, and the departure from normal is at least 4.5 degrees Celsius.
Heat wave: Dos And Don’ts
Exposure to extreme hot weather or heat wave conditions can result in physiological strain, which could even be life-threatening. The National Disaster Management Authority recommends the following dos and don’ts to protect oneself from heat wave:
- While travelling, carry water with you. Drink sufficient water and as often as possible, even if you are not thirsty
- Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose, and porous cotton clothes. Use protective goggles, an umbrella or hat, shoes or footwear while going out in the sun
- If you work outside, then use a hat or an umbrella and also use a damp cloth on your head, neck, face and limbs
- Use ORS (oral rehydration solutions), homemade drinks like lassi, torani (rice water), lemon water, buttermilk, etc. which help to rehydrate the body
- Keep animals in shade and give them plenty of water to drink
- Keep your home cool, use curtains, shutters or sunshade and open windows at night
- Use fans, and damp clothing and take bath in cold water frequently
- Avoid going out in the sun, especially between 12.00 noon and 3.00 pm
- Avoid strenuous activities when the outside temperature is high. Avoid working outside between 12-3 pm
- Avoid alcohol, tea, coffee and carbonated soft drinks, which dehydrate the body
- Avoid high-protein food and do not eat stale food
- Do not leave children or pets in parked vehicles
If you are feeling unwell or nauseous, it is best to seek expert advice immediately. If you know someone affected by a heat stroke, here are some tips to follow and help the person feel better:
- Lay the person in a cool place, under the shade. Wipe her/him with a wet cloth/wash the body frequently. Pour normal temperature water on the head. The main thing is to bring down the body temperature
- Give the person ORS to drink or lemon juice or any other drink to rehydrate the body
- Take the person immediately to the nearest health centre. The patient needs immediate hospitalisation, as heat strokes can be fatal
According to the government, people coming from a cooler climate to a hot climate are more at risk of getting a heat stroke. Therefore, it is recommended for them to not go out in the open field for a period of one week till the body is acclimatised to the heat.
So, drink plenty of water and stay healthy!
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.