By Amatul Ameen | 12th May 2023
As temperatures continue to rise during the summer months, heat waves have become increasingly common, resulting in a multitude of environmental changes. Unfortunately, the effects of heat waves on health and well-being are far from desirable. If this trend continues, the next generation will face a world that is vastly different from what we consider normal. In this blog, we’ll explore the impact of heat waves and the urgent need to address this critical issue.
An understanding of heat waves is imperative. As the impact of a heat wave is not limited to life, but extends to agriculture, the environment, and animals. Implementing appropriate changes at the government and individual levels together will save nature & lives.
Let’s discuss heat waves, including their impact on health, risks to vulnerable people, symptoms, causes, tips to handle heat waves and management of heat waves.
Heatwave is a scorching hot weather condition for an unusually prolonged period of time. It lasts for more than two to three days. And it is characterised by hot and moistened or sweaty conditions.
Heat waves are silent and deadly situations which are often overlooked or ignored. You should be extra careful and cautious during the warnings of heat waves by being present and providing resources for children and older adults.
Heatwaves are highly harmful and life-threatening. Its effects on health range from temporary; trivial to complex and long-term. When the temperature rises more than 42 degrees Celsius, we sense increased irritability, a loss of concentration during regular physical and mental tasks, and a loss of ability to complete heavy tasks/ work.
When exposed to heat, address the issue immediately, drink plenty of water and move to shady and cool places to avoid a further rise in body temperature, as heat waves affect maximum outdoors.
Avoid being out in the sun, especially when the effects of a heat wave are maximum. The heat wave effect is not very obvious to the human eye until it affects the person; always check on loved ones and neighbours during such conditions.
Climate change is the leading cause of natural disasters like heat waves and other natural calamities like floods and landslides. India is among the most vulnerable countries impacted by climate change.
Global warming has a crucial role in climate change. The increased concentration of gases like carbon dioxide and methane is intricately connected to climate change. If the levels of gases like carbon dioxide are not controlled, it will lead to a fatal situation.
The source of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases are fossil fuels from generating electricity, deforestation, from manufacturing goods industries like steel, iron, cement, plastics and electronic items.
From 1901-2018 India’s average temperature has risen by 0.7 degrees Celsius. On 15th May 2022, the Indian meteorological department reported a rise in temperatures of 40- 50 degrees Celsius. This was followed by a heatwave at the end of April and May when temperatures reached 43 to 46 degrees Celsius.
They serve as indicators to act for the next step. The health impact of heat waves is seen in the form of dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
Heatwaves are also associated with heart, respiratory tract and kidney-related illnesses. People with such illnesses should take special precautions in these circumstances.
Respiratory diseases occur when the quality of air is affected. It is characterised by an increase in the production of ozone gas which leads to smog formation. The smog containing ozone is harmful to the respiratory system and especially to asthma patients. Respiratory disease patients should take Extra Care to avoid any hazards.
Heat waves can cause heart attack and damage to the cardiac system, leading to a low blood pumping level and a reduced ability to eliminate heat from the heart. Avoid any physical exertion on the body during the hot season as this may put additional risk on heart function.
Some groups face a greater risk of heat-related illnesses than others. For example, outdoor workers and athletes are more prone to heat effects than office workers.
Prevention and minimising the effects of heat waves can be achieved through the following measures:
Tips for handling sunstroke are an essential part of immediately controlling the extreme situation. Doing so will save people’s lives & avoid the worsening of the heat effect
While a heat wave is a natural occurrence, the impact of such an event is exacerbated by the exploitation of natural resources. The impact of the heat waves on humanity, the environment and everything around us has been devastating. The harmful effects are recognised through symptoms like fainting, dizziness, and fever. First aid care can treat these symptoms. If the situation is uncontrolled, visit the hospital soon after the heat stroke is fatal. While heat waves affect all people, some sections of vulnerable people need to be prioritised. The risk for such vulnerable people is high when compared to normal adults. The vulnerable section comprises older people, children, pregnant women, indoor and outdoor workers, emergency workforce and pets. The risk associated with them can be handled. They depend on others due to their inability to care for themselves. Giving adequate care in the form of guiding them on daily routine changes during extreme weather conditions, being available and reachable when they need us, and educating them about heat wave consequences are a few things to keep them safe. A list of things mentioned in the article to follow will help to survive the heat wave. Finally, as heat waves are abnormal, we must do our bit and save nature.
Rajasthan state has the most heat in India.
Murshidabad is the hottest city in India as of 2023.
The heat wave in California in July 1913 was the worst recorded in history.
The Lut desert in Iran is considered the hottest place on the earth.
The maximum heat humans can live in is approximately below 42 degrees Celsius.
India is facing heat waves due to climate change. Climate change results from the excessive use of natural resources like coal and petroleum.
No, humans cannot survive 50 degrees of heat.
Yes, Heatwaves are a natural disaster in India.
Heat waves last for three or more days in India.
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