The Telangana State Disaster Management Authority (TSDMA) has asked Hyderabad dwellers to stay indoors and keep themselves hydrated as the Meteorology department has forecasted that the temperature would continue to soar in Hyderabad for the next two days.
The Indian Meteorology Department (IMD), Hyderabad scientist, K Naga Ratna, said that the temperature would between 42 to 43 degree Celsius for the next two days.
“A heatwave has not been declared yet, but hot days in the city would prevail for the next two days,” she told TNM.
The IMD has forecasted that the state would have a larger number of heatwave days this year, compared to the last two years.
IMD Hyderabad scientist, Dr B Raja Rao said, “In 2016, the number of heatwave days were 27, whereas in 2017 it reduced to 23. For 2018, the department has forecasted that the number of heatwave days will exceed 27.”
What is a heatwave?
According to the National Disaster Management Authority: “Heatwave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the summer season in the North-Western parts of India. They typically occur during the months of March and June, and sometimes extend even till July. These extreme temperatures and resultant atmospheric conditions adversely affect people living in these regions as they cause physiological stress, sometimes resulting in death.”
According to IMD Hyderabad scientist, Dr B Raja Rao heatwave can be determined in two ways. “One is when the temperature increases by 5-6 degrees beyond normal temperature. The other is when the temperature exceeds 43-45 degrees.”
“If the temperature exceeds 7 degrees more than the normal temperature, we declare it as severe heatwave, while rise in temperature up to 5-6 degrees more than normal maximum temperature is moderate,” Rao said.
Heatwave deaths in the last three years
According to the department, the erstwhile Nalgonda, Karimnagar and Khammam districts are more prone to heatwave deaths. As per official figures, a total of 788 deaths were recorded in the past three years – 543 in 2015, 137 in 2016 and 108 in 2017.
Heatwave plan action by the state for April to June
In a bid to minimize the casualties of heatwave, the TSDMA has constituted a steering committee which includes Medical and Health Department, Panchayat Raj Department, Rural Development Department.
To alert all the state departments on how to disseminate information on the heatwave and thereby minimize deaths, the TSDMA has designed signals for heat alert.
As per the department, the Red Alert is for severe condition, when the day temperature increases by 6 degree Celsius or more; Orange Alert is for moderate condition, when the temperature increases by 4-5 degree Celsius; Yellow Alert for Heatwave warning; and White Alert for normal temperature.
Apart from prompt action during summer to minimize deaths, the department has issued instructions to all the departments in the state on how they could reduce heatwave deaths in the long run.
An official said, “For example, the Housing and Urban Development Department has been instructed to educate dwellers to construct heat resistant buildings as a mitigating measure to avoid Sunstroke and heatwave deaths.”
The department has issued specific instructions to each department in the state to prevent deaths.
I & PR department: The I & PR department has been instructed to spread messages about heatwave to general public and vulnerable groups through radio, WhatsApp, press meets, Twitter and Facebook.
Medical and Health Department: The department has been instructed to equip themselves with additional supplies of medicine and material, deploy additional staff at Primary Health Centre (PHC) and Urban Health Centre (UHC) to attend the heavy influx of patients, keep emergency wards ready in all the PHCs, UHCs and hospitals, report heatstroke patients to the nodal officer on a daily basis, expedite recording of cause of death in death certificates.
Besides, the Regional Health Officers are directed to visit the PHCs and UHCs to inspect if the hospitals are prepared to admit the heatstroke patients.
The 108/104 ambulance services are also instructed to have adequate supply of ice packs. IV fluids and medicines.
Municipal Administration and Urban Development: The MA and UD have been instructed to extend the duration of public parks for long hours, so that general public can relax and cool themselves. They’ve also been asked to set up electronic scrolling boards to display temperature and forecasts at junctions and activate ‘cooling centres’ – temples, libraries, schools and malls to be open for general public.
Labour and Employment Department: The department has been directed to encourage employers to shift outdoor workers’ schedules away during the peak afternoons hours (12-4 pm), ensure provision of shelters, cooling areas, and ensure medicines at worksites.
How to determine if the deaths are caused by heatwave
The government has taken cognizance that the ex-gratia amount for the heatwave victims were exploited by a few in the past and to ensure that the funds are not misused, the department has three checklists before giving the ex-gratia: recording of maximum temperature of the place, autopsy reports and local authority verification report.