A massive heat wave struck our country a week back on 19th May and is still continuing with great intensity. The forecast is that it would last for another couple of days. You can see the States and area most affected with this heat wave in the above map. In these regions, the monster heat wave has killed over 750 people. The maximum loss of life has been in our Telangana State and Andhra Pradesh, where 186 and 182 people have died so far. The maximum temperature in all these areas is over 42 degrees Celsius and in some places of Khammam District like Kothagudem – TS, with which we were associated for 27 years, that is until 1979, the temperature touched 48C. It was a hot place then too but with many huge trees in our house providing shade and by keeping all windows and doors shut from sunrise to well after sunset we remained comfortable.
The deaths are mostly among the elderly and the working class who are exposed to the sun directly. Using an Umbrella, a cap, consuming frequent and huge quantity of liquids like water, lemon juice, cool drinks and buttermilk may have saved them. And if possible, the best would have been to stay indoors during the peak temperature hours that is from 10 am to 5 pm.
Since 19th May, the temperature in our city – Hyderabad is hovering between 42 and 44C. Similarly, other States - Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and West Bengal are also affected and in many regions of these States the temperatures are close to 48C. And in a lighter vein it is said, humans “boil in their own skin” at 48C. And the Medical version for laymen says that long exposure to extreme heat raises human body temperature to such levels that protein cells start to boil like egg whites, a case of internal combustion that leads to many complications and eventually shuts down the brain.
In Hyderabad people do not seem to have realized the ill effects of such weather. Today Hyderabad touched 43C. Except for two days when the temperature reached 44C, the rush on the roads is heavy as usual with traffic snarls, dangerously exposing people; specially bikers and pedestrians for long durations to sun and high temperatures.
The purpose of this post is to caution such people directly or through their friends and acquaintances who may read this article. I wish to tell through this post that people venturing into such weather should be very cautious. As I said above, they should plan their outdoor activities to the extent possible during the cooler part of the day, before 10 am and after 5 pm. They must wear lightweight clothes, loose and light-colored clothing as they do not absorb much of the Sun’s rays. Pedestrians should carry umbrellas and those on bikes should put on comfortable helmets and they should not risk traveling over long distances. They must avoid dehydration problems by having plenty of liquids. Children and the aged people, those above 50 and those afflicted with diabetes, high blood pressure and other ailments should avoid moving out during peak heat hours.
If any symptoms of sunstroke are noticed (however mild) like exhaustion, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, excessive sweating, fever, nausea or vomiting one should seek medical attention immediately.
Please take good care of Yourself.