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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

heat wave sweeping across India ~ killing more than a thousand !!!

Summer  is the time when animals too suffer – they also suffer the heat and become too thirsty ! ~ this photo from Daily Mail UK  tells it all !!

Often we hear from people, that temperatures are rising and it is hotter this year that it was before !  Chennaites are lucky – the  ‘agni natchathiram or katri’ this year passed off somewhat ordinarily without harming much in Chennai – there have been brief of spells of rains too, bringing down the heat and fortunately there have been no power cuts.  Not so, for many other parts of the Nation. Sad news is that the stifling heat has killed more than 1,100 people in India.  The worst-hit area is the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh, where authorities say 852 people have died in the heat wave. Another 266 have died in the neighboring state of Telangana. 

Titlagarh recorded a temperature of 47.6 degree Celsius, the season’s highest for the state.  On 25th May,  temperature of 47 degrees Celsius (117 degrees Fahrenheit) was recorded  at Angul in the state of Odisha, according to the India Meteorological Department.  Many of the dead are reported to be poorer people, beggars and the homeless as well as construction workers who are expected to work on building sites in direct sunlight.  Heat waves are a consequence of global warming and India is feeling the impact of climate change through the increased instances of  heat waves every year. National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) defines heat wave as a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature, occurring during summer.

It has been torrid time for southern neighbours of Andhra and Telengana as roads reportedly were melted in the heat in the National Capital.    In Telengana, 266 deaths have been reported where a maximum temperature of 44.5°C was recorded in Ramagundam city. Jangameswarapuram in Andhra was two notches higher at 46.4°C.  The meteorological department issued “red box” warnings for Odisha, Jharkhand and coastal Andhra Pradesh, signalling high chances of heatstroke, dehydration and fatality with temperatures inching upwards of 45°C and conditions worsened by constant dry, sweltering winds. A sizzling sun baked large parts of Punjab and Haryana as maximum temperatures settled at a few notches above normal in most areas. Karnal in Haryana recorded 44°C, four degrees above normal, while searing heat swept Ludhiana in Punjab at 42.6°C.  Agra was the hottest part of the state  of UP with the mercury hitting 46.1°C.

The heat wave was mainly triggered by an abrupt end to pre-monsoon showers and missing storms. A brewing cyclonic weather pattern in the Arabian Sea two weeks ago lost steam quickly, while depressions, or rain-causing systems, in the Bay of Bengal headed off towards the northwest states which are getting plentiful rains. Authorities  have advised people to stay indoors and consume plenty of fluids and experts warned no let-up in the heat wave would lead to large-scale power outages in several parts of north India.  The sweltering heat wave has not spared children and infants as well. In the last few days, several hospitals have seen a surge in diarrhoea cases in children between the age group of one to five years.

In 2012, in Chennai,   Commissioner of Police Sanjay Mathur inaugurated the juice distribution, a scheme introduced by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.  The Traffic Police are among the worst affected having to stand in hot sun and in summer their plight is pitiable.  To mitigate the effect of heat,  the scheme provided ‘lime juice’ for personnel performing duties in two shifts of four hours each – be provided juice twice in each shift. 

According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) the following  is the criteria for Heat Waves :
         Heat Wave need not be considered till maximum temperature of a station reaches atleast 40*C for Plains and atleast 30*C for Hilly regions
         When actual maximum temperature remains 45*C or more irrespective of normal maximum temperature, heat waves should be declared. Higher daily peak temperatures and longer, more intense heat waves are becomingly increasingly frequent globally due to climate change. India too is feeling the impact of climate change in terms of increased instances of heat waves which are more intense in nature with each passing year, and have a devastating impact on human health thereby increasing the number of heat wave casualties.

The  NDMA recommends the following :   Apart from regular rehydration, it is best to keep simple solutions like oral salts and a wet cloth handy. Also carry an umbrella or cap at all times to avoid exposure to direct sunlight.   It also advises not to  consume aerated drinks caffeine and alcohol during extreme heat.   One needs to rest in shade and  take breaks if  one has to  work in the sun;  wear light and loose clothes

In the hot Sun – not going out in direct sun; avoiding extensive physical activity; not  sending children in sun; not letting out pets in hot sun and confining them in hot vehicles ; not wearing dark, heavy, tight clothing; not cooking during peak heat hours when there is less ventilation are also advisable.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
27th May 2015.


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