It is expected that extreme heat waves will become more common worldwide because of rising average global temperature. Since the beginning of the 21st century, this has increased by nearly a degree Centigrade. This weather pattern, coupled with the El - Nino effect, is increasing the temperatures in Asia. Further, high humidity compounds the effects of the temperatures being felt by human beings.
Extreme heat can lead to dangerous, even deadly, consequences, including heat stress and heatstroke. India is also vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Experts have been warning that the rising temperatures will lead to more floods, heat-waves, storms, rising sea levels and unpredictable farm yields. There is evidence that climate change is causing increase in extreme weather events as well as severity and frequency of natural disasters. Deforestation is also adding to the environmental instability and contributing to global warming and climate change.
Heat-wave is a condition of atmospheric temperature that leads to physiological stress, which sometimes can claim human life. Heat-wave is defined as the condition where maximum temperature at a grid point is 3oC or more than the normal temperature, consecutively for 3 days or more.
World Meteorological Organization defines a heat wave as five or more consecutive days during which the daily maximum temperature exceeds the average maximum temperature by five degrees Celsius. If the maximum temperature of any place continues to be more than 45oC consecutively for two days, it is called a heat wave condition.
There will be no harm to the human body if the environmental temperature remains at 37o C. Whenever the environmental temperature increases above 37o C, the human body starts gaining heat from the atmosphere. If humidity is high, a person can suffer from heat stress disorders even with the temperature at 37o C or 38o C. To calculate the effect of humidity we can use Heat Index Values. The Heat Index is a measure of how hot it really feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature. As an example, if the air temperature is 34 oC and the relative humidity is 75%, the heat index -- how hot it feels -- is 49oC. The same effect is reached at just 31oC when the relative humidity is 100 %.
There has been an increasing trend of heat - wave in India over the past several years whereby several cities in India have been severely affected. Heat wave killed thousands of people and has also caused death of cattle and wildlife besides affecting animals in various zoos in India. The increased occurrences and severity of heat - wave is a wake - up call for all agencies to take necessary action for prevention, preparedness and community outreach to save the lives of the general public, livestock and wild life.
Heat wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the pre-monsoon (April to June) summer season. Heat -waves typically occur between March to June, and in some rare cases even extend till July. Heat waves are more frequent over the Indo-Gangetic plains of India. On an average, 5-6 heat wave events occur every year over the northern parts of the country.
The Heat-Wave Action plan aims to provide a framework for implementation, coordination and evaluation of extreme heat response activities in cities/town in India that reduces the negative impact of extreme heat. The Plan's primary objective is to alert those populations at risk of heat-related illness in places where extreme heat conditions either exist or are imminent, and to take appropriate precautions, which are at high risk.
All cities can learn from their experience and develop a plan to deal with Heat wave in their specific cities/town and thus reduce the negative health impacts of extreme Heat. In addition the State Governments should also prepare a comprehensive plan to combat Heat wave.
The heat-wave action plan is intended to mobilize individuals and communities to help protect their neighbours, friends, relatives, and themselves against avoidable health problems during spells of very hot weather. Broadcast media and alerting agencies may also find this plan useful. Severe and extended heat-waves can also cause disruption to general, social and economic services. For this reason, Government agencies will have a critical role to play in preparing and responding to heat- waves at a local level, working closely with health and other related departments on long term strategic plan.
|Sl. No.||Tasks/ Activities||Central/ State Agencies & Their Responsibilities|
|1||Preparation of Heat Wave Action Plan||NDMA||Guideline on preparing a Heat Wave Action Plan||
SDMA / DDMA/Municipal Corporation and Local Bodies
|Preparing a Heat Wave Action Plan and implementing|
|2||Early Warning||IMD||Issue Heat wave alerts and weather forecasts on Short / Medium / Long range duration||State Governments/ District Administration||To disseminate the information received from IMD to the public at large|
|3||Mitigating Heat Wave||Ministry of Urban /Rural Development, Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Surface Transport||To construct shelters/ sheds, bus stands and provide drinking water points at worksites.||Public Health and Engineering Department||To construct shelters/ sheds, bus stands and provide drinking water points in cities, worksites.|
|Ministry of Health and Family Welfare||Stockpiling of ORS, Training of Human Resources, creating Medical posts at places of mass gathering,||Department of Health||Stockpiling of ORS, creating Medical posts at places of mass gathering|
|4.||Monitoring and Response||Ministry of Health and Family Welfare||
|5.||Occupational Support and advisories||All Ministries/ Departments||Take necessary measures as indicated in the guidelines, wherever applicable||All Departments||Take necessary measures as indicated in the guidelines, wherever applicable|
|6.||Media campaign and IEC activities||Ministry of Information and Broadcasting||Extensive IEC campaigns to create awareness through print, electronic and social media||Department of Information and Broadcasting/ SDMAs/ Commissioners of Relief/ State Govt/ Health Department||Extensive IEC campaigns to create awareness through print, electronic and social media|
|7.||Documentation||Ministry of Health & Family Welfare through IDSP||Collecting Data from States as per guidelines and maintaining national level data base.||Revenue Departments/ SDMAs/ DDMAs/ Health Deptt.||Collecting Data and Information as per guidelines.|
|8.||Long Term Measures||Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change||Collecting Data from States as per guidelines and maintaining national level data base.||Revenue Departments/ SDMAs/ DDMAs/ Health Deptt.||Improving the forest coverage and green areas Forest Department/ SDMAs and other concerned Department Improving the forest coverage and green area.|