Preparing for the Heat Wave

Dr Asangba Tzudir 

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has said that India’s rain-fed agri areas are likely to get above-normal monsoon rain this year, and which is good. But it has also forecast heat wave across most parts on India in June. In Nagaland, the past few days witnessed extreme heat especially in Dimapur until some relief was offered through pleasant showers though Nagaland has been put on ‘Red Alert’ by IMD because of the cyclone REMAL.

Today, the entire world is shrouded within a climate emergency, and because of the unprecedented climate change, one of its effects is the heat waves which are becoming longer, more frequent and more severe. And now with heat waves (above-normal temperature) predicted to sweep across most parts of the country in June, it calls for certain precautionary measures.  Extreme heat and humidity is also an uncomfortable experience. While it can be extremely uncomfortable, it also poses certain health risks including heat stroke which can be fatally disastrous especially for small children, pregnant women and the elderly. 

Besides the health risks, extreme heat also results in mental stress which only adds to the physical discomfort and restlessness. While many luxuriate in the comfort of their homes sitting under AC’s, the working force have to sweat out. While as much as physical work should be minimized, it is imperative that while working it is important to drink a cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes because drinking at shorter intervals is more effective than drinking in large amounts infrequently. Drinking too much of water also leads to water intoxication causing depletion of minerals like potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium resulting in electrolyte imbalances. 

While there are various ways to cool down during extreme heat conditions, one should not add to the already extreme heat by taking high-protein food, and also using drinks like alcohol, tea, coffee and carbonated soft drinks which only dehydrate the body. Rather, ORS, lassi, rice water, lemon juice and buttermilk are rehydrating drinks for the body. 

While it is necessary for offices and institutions to have proper cooling effects, it is important to have the knowledge about how to treat those who have suffered sunstroke or those experiencing dizziness. In such situations, rehydrating through ORS or lemon juice is necessary, while pouring normal temperature water on the head is also an effective way. However, wetting the feet in cold water can really bring down the body temperature. Proper medical care should be provided urgently so as to avoid fatality.

Rapid urbanization adds to the growing problems and issues and sadly a trend which will continue for various reasons. However, in this process of urbanization people coming from cooler places to a hot climate are at greater risk and therefore such people needs to learn to acclimatize and adapt to the hot climate quickly by not exposing to the heat. Yet acclimatization can be achieved by slow and gradual exposure to the hot environment.

(Dr Asangba Tzudir writes guest editorial for The Morung Express. Comments can be emailed to asangtz@gmail.com)