- A Heat Wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, which is more than the normal maximum temperature of a particular place.
- World Meteorological Organization: Heat wave is a situation when five or more consecutive days during which the daily maximum temperature exceeds the average maximum temperature by five degrees Celsius.
- The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has given the following criteria for Heat Waves:
- The maximum temperature of a station should reach atleast 40 degree Celsius for Plains and atleast 30degree Celsius for Hilly regions.
- If a station has normal maximum temperature of less than or equal to 40 degree Celsius then a departure of 4 to 5 degree Celsius would be considered as Heat Wave and departure of 6 or more degree Celsius would be considered as severe heat wave.
- Heat waves should be declared when actual maximum temperature remains 45 degree Celsius or more irrespective of normal maximum temperature.
- In India, Heat Waves typically occur between March and June, and in some rare cases even extend till July.
Impacts of Heat Waves
- Disaster: It is called a “silent disaster” as it develops slowly and kills and injures humans and animals.
- Visible impact: The human health impacts of Heat Waves typically involve dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke.
- Invisible impact: Heat waves can cause physiological stress, sometimes resulting in death.
- Impact on infrastructure: It can also cause major disruption in community infrastructure such as power supply, public transport and other essential services.
Strategy to tackle Heat Wave
1. Preventive measures
- Public Awareness
- Disseminate public awareness messageson Do‟s and Don‟ts and treatment measures for heat related illnesses.
- Disseminateinformation through various media platforms and Education and Communication (IEC) materials.
- Collaboration with civil society: Collaborate with non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations to improve bus stands, building temporary shelters, improvewater delivery systems in public areas.
- Prevention of Illness: Ensure knowledge of effective prevention and first-aid treatment, along with potential side-effects of prescription drugs for physicians and pharmacists.
- Acclimatization: Visitors from a cooler climate should be advised not to move out in till the body is acclimatized to heat and should drink plenty of water.
- Improving the forest coverage: Planting more trees, which maintain soil moisture, cause more evapotranspiration and help in latent cooling, is a way out.
2. Preparedness Measures
- Heat Wave Action Plan: Considering heat wave as a disaster, a heat wave action plan and a standard operating procedure should be prepared in advance to mitigate the impact of heat wave.
- Early Warning System and Inter-Agency Coordination: It is required to alert residents on predicted high and extreme temperatures.
- Capacity building: Training programme for health care professionals should be conducted to recognize and respond to heat-related illnesses to reduce mortality and morbidity.
3. Mitigation measures
- Early Warning: Keep issuing Heat wave alerts and weather forecasts on Short / Medium / Long range duration.
- Monitoring: Keep Surveillance on the situation during heat wave period.
- Response: Deployment of Rapid Response Teams and providing specific care for vulnerable groups is required.
- Compensation: Provide compensation to the families of those affected by heat wave to reduce their sufferings.
Section : Environment & Ecology