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Here comes the sun

With rising mercury levels, the Health Department and Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) have sounded a high alert in the state.

Published: 02nd March 2021 05:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd March 2021 05:20 AM   |  A+A-

illus: EXPRESS

Express News Service

KOCHI:  Ambient temperature in the state has hit 37 degree Celsius even before the peak of summer.
The Health Department and Kerala State Disaster Management Authority have sounded a high alert and issued advisories on the same

With rising mercury levels, the Health Department and Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) have sounded a high alert in the state. The ambient temperature has hit 37 degree Celsius in some parts of the state even before the peak of summer prompting health authorities to issue advisories for the general public, primarily recommending them to avoid direct sunlight from 11am to 3pm. 

The India Meteorological Department officially confirmed a heatwave in Kerala for the first time in 2016. Later, according to KSDMA officials, Kerala had one of the hottest summers in 2019. As per statistics, around 1,071 people were admitted to various hospitals and one death was reported in the state due to intense heat in 2019.  

As per the data with the Health Department, of the total 1,671 heat-related incidents reported in the state during the summer of 2019, 875 were sunburn cases and 32 sunstroke. In 2020, due to the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, there were no heat-related incidents reported. With the state limping back to normalcy while simultaneously fighting the pandemic, heat-related incidents are expected. 

More summer showers expected
As per predictions, the temperature is likely to increase by two to three degrees in some places in the state on Tuesday. “The state is unlikely to face a heatwave like situation as we are expecting summer rains this time. We received showers in the beginning of February and are anticipating more in the coming months. A few districts including Kottayam and Alappuzha have hit 37 degree Celsius. The sudden increase in humidity levels can create problems,” said a KSDMA official. 

For now, the situation is not alarming in cities like Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram as the average maximum temperature reported so far is 33 to 34-degree Celsius. “However, we want the public to remain alert due to the increase in humidity levels. Advisories to build awareness have been issued,” said the official.  As part of a campaign to sensitise the public and various government agencies, KSDMA is organising a training programme on March 9 and 10. “The programme aims to build awareness on the steps to be taken to protect oneself from the heat and effectively counter summer-related issues including water scarcity,” said the official. 

Rescheduled working hours
Additional Labour Commissioner Sreelal K said that no hard labour will be allowed between 12pm and 3pm. “We issued an order on the same 15 days ago. Construction worksites are under our scanner and special squads have been deployed to conduct surprise checks to book violators,” said Sreelal. 
Various squads under the Labour Commission have carried out 688 inspections to check the violation of rescheduled working hours in the wake of rising temperature. A total of five stop memos were issued.

What health experts say

Dr Harikrishnan R, additional professor of Internal Medicine, Government Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram, said exposure to extreme temperatures can become risky for vulnerable groups including children, elderly, pregnant women and people with other underlying health issues. He said that adverse heat-related incidents can be divided into four - heat rash (sunburn), heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke (sunstroke).  “Some people may experience cramps and extreme fatigue when they are exposed for long hours in the sun. The most vulnerable group are children below four years and elderly above 75 years. Avoiding the sun during the peak hours is the only way out,” he said. 

High-risk groups
Kids less than 4 years of age and elderly above 75 years 
Individuals with other underlying health issues
Chronic patients with liver, kidney or heart ailments
Labourers who work outdoors
Obese and underweight people 
Patients with high BP

Symptoms of sunstroke 
Headache 
High body temperature
Slow pulse
Dizziness
Muscle cramps 
Severe body pain 
Urine discolouration
Change in skin colour 
Palpitation
Loss of consciousness
Seizures 
Coma

What is sunburn?
Sunburn is a condition that is less severe when compared to sunstroke. When a person is exposed to the sun for longer periods, parts of the body exposed to direct sunlight become red with a burning sensation 
Symptoms 
Fatigue
Dizziness
Headache 
Muscle cramps
Nausea 
Vomiting 
Abnormal sweating 
Severe thirst 
Decreased urine 
Loss of consciousness
Treatment 
Move to a cool place
Remove thick clothing 
Wipe face and body with cold water 
Reduce the body temperature level 
Drink plenty of fluids
Have fruits and salads
Seek medical help 

Treatment
Take immediate steps to bring down the body temperature 
Remove or loosen clothing 
Put an ice pack behind the neck, armpits and thighs to bring down the body heat 
Give cold beverage or fruit juice 
Take the person to the hospital

  General tips 

Avoid direct sunlight from 11 am to 3 pm 
Use an umbrella or hat for self-protection 
Drink plenty of water even if you are not thirsty
Make it a habit to carry a bottle of water on the go 
Avoid strenuous activities between 11am and 3pm 
Use loose clothing 
Use light colour clothes
Drink at least 12 glasses of water
Avoid the intake of red meat to keep the internal body temperature low 
Ensure cross ventilation at home/office by keeping the windows and doors open 


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