The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a heat wave alert as temperature surpasses 40 degrees Celsius degrees in many parts of the country, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and Maharashtra. Earlier, record-breaking heat was registered in February month. However, the month of March went relatively cooler due to rain. But again, April is witnessing deadly heat.
An orange alert has been issued in some states, indicating how scorching heat will create trouble for the public, particularly underserved populations. Individuals are advised to stay indoors and avoid venturing out in the sun, especially during the peak hours, i.e., between 12 pm-4 pm.
Dr. Anurag Saxena, HOD-Internal medicine, Primus Super Speciality Hospital, cautions that heat strokes can pose great danger to vulnerable groups like the elderly, children, and those with existing health conditions.
Recently 13 people reportedly died due to heat stroke and hundreds of attendees suffered from dehydration during the Maharashtra Bhushan Award function at Kharghar in Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra.
Citing this incident, Dr. Saxena warns that heat waves should not be taken lightly. “People should be vigilant about their health by staying hydrated and ensuring limited exposure or no exposure to direct sunlight. If going out in the sun is unavoidable, then drink adequate fluids before venturing out, keep the head and body well covered, avoid long exposures to the sun directly, and sip fluids intermittently while you are staying out in the open,” he advises.
Impact of Heat Waves on Health: Signs and symptoms
Exposure to Heat Waves can cause dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke (a potentially fatal condition).
In case of heat cramps, one may experience ederna (swelling) and syncope (fainting) often accompanied by fever below 39*C (102*F).
Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps and sweating.
The warning signs and symptoms of heat stroke include high body temperature (106+F), rapid, strong pulse, red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating) or profuse sweating, nausea, vomiting, unconsciousness (coma), dizziness, seizures in some cases, headache, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, and delirium. Anyone experiencing these symptoms needs immediate medicate help. Delaying the treatment can lead to death.
First aid for heat stroke
If you think someone is suffering from a heat stroke or sun stroke, immediately call emergency medical services or take the victim to a hospital. Here are certain things you can do to help the victim while waiting for emergency help to arrive
Move victim to a cooler place and make him/her lie down.
Loosen or remove clothing.
Fan the person, if it is not an air-conditioned place.
Place cool, wet cloth (especially on the neck, armpits, and the groin) to reduce body temperature.
Do not give fluids to the victim
Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency. emergency medical services or take the victim to a hospital immediately.
In India, heat wave occurs mainly during March to June, and in rare cases till July. According to India Meteorological Department (IMD), May is the peak month of the heat wave in India.
States that are prone to heat wave include Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telengana. Sometimes heat wave occurs over Tamilnadu and Kerala as well.