About Heatwaves

About Heatwaves

  • 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 societyCollaborate with non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations to improve bus stands, building temporary shelters, improvewater delivery systems in public areas.
  • Prevention of IllnessEnsure 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.
  • CompensationProvide compensation to the families of those affected by heat wave to reduce their sufferings.
Section : Environment & Ecology