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Heat Waves are Breaking All Records and Killing People across the World

Shivam Dwivedi
Shivam Dwivedi
Heat Waves
Heat Waves

Hot days are getting hotter and more frequent, while we are experiencing fewer cold days across the globe. This all is happening due to the human-induced climate change. There's nothing wrong in saying that climate change is already deteriorating our health condition in many dramatic ways. 

Extreme heat is killing more people each year across the world than any other kind of natural disaster. We can see its numerous impacts globally. These extreme events can have long-term consequences.

Recent Instances of Extreme Heat:

  • Very recently, United Nations on Thursday (1 July) highlighted a new record high temperature for the Antarctic continent, validating a reading of 18.3 degrees Celsius (64.9 degrees Fahrenheit) made last year.

  • "This new record shows once again that climate change requires urgent measures," said World Meteorological Organization.

  • Moreover, the Last Ice Area (LIA) situated in the Arctic’s Ice north of Greenland, has began melting much more earlier than what the scientists had anticipated, as the scientific community had believed LIA strong enough to be able to resist the harmful effects of global warming.

  • Furthermore, a report cited the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as highlighting the extent of the Arctic summer ice as it was shrinking due to climate change. This issue is not only for the wildlife like Polar Bears in the area, but also for the local population.

What is Heat Wave?

  • A heat wave is a period of extremely high temperatures, much more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the summer in the North-Western and South-Central parts of India.

  • Generally, heat waves blows between March and June, and in rare cases even extend till July. During these times, daily peak temperatures and longer, more intense heat waves are becoming increasingly frequent globally due to climate change.

Criteria for Heat Waves:

  • The heat wave is considered a 'Heat Wave' when the highest temperature of a place touches at least 40 degree Celsius for Plains and at least 30 degree Celsius for Hilly regions.

  • If the normal highest temperature of a place is less than or equal to 40 degree Celsius, then an increase of 5 to 6 degree Celsius from the normal is treated to be heat wave condition.

  • Moreover, a rise of up to 7 degree Celsius or more from the normal temperature is said to be severe heat wave condition.

  • In case if the normal maximum temperature of a place is greater than 40 degree Celsius, then an increase of 4  to 5 degree Celsius from the normal temperature is observed to be heat wave condition. Also, a rise of 6 degree Celsius or more is assumed as severe heat wave condition.

  • Furthermore, if the actual maximum temperature remains constant at 45 degree Celsius or more irrespective of normal maximum temperature, a heat wave is announced.

Consequences of Heat Waves on Health:

  • Heat waves are one of the major cause of weather-related deaths across nations, not the more photogenic windstorms and floods. Much hotter summers from climate change are giving rise to various concerns over new dangers to people.

  • The health related consequences of Heat Waves generally includes heat cramps, dehydration, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

  • It also creates fatigue, dizziness, weakness, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps and sweating.

  • This extremely high temperatures along with the resultant atmospheric conditions adversely affecting the lives of people in these regions because they cause physiological stress, sometimes resulting in death.

How to Identify Heatstroke?

  • You can check whether a person is affected by heat waves or not. Overheated persons suffer from painful involuntary muscle spasms and heat strokes. One of the main criteria for when these are approaching to the potentially fatal heatstroke is when someone is no longer thinking normally and their conversations becomes incoherent.

  • So what should you do if you think someone is overheated? Test for confusion about time or place. Ask general questions like, “Where are you? When did you come here? Who did you come with?” If you get incoherent answers, consider it as an emergency and take medical help.

How Heat Waves can even Kill You?

  • Heat waves can actually kill you via dehydration caused by heavy sweating as this altered sodium and potassium concentrations in the blood confuse both nerve cells and heart, and that's why breathing or heartbeat may suddenly stop.

  • The other major reason to a fatal outcome is that prolonged overheating can cause widespread inflammation, not just a flushed face and the dilation of so many small blood vessels means that much venous blood pools, failing to return to the heart. Recovery can take 2 to 12 months.

  • Moreover, an unbroken series of nights, when it's too hot to sleep, poses a major threat.

How can you protect yourself against Heat Waves?

It may seem like there is no way to avoid it but during a heat wave, you have to dress appropriately. Wear only loose, light-colored clothing, UV-protective and moisture-wicking clothing are the best if you have to work or be outside. This will surely protect your skin from sunburn and help absorb sweat to keep you a little cooler.

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Hey! I am Shivam Dwivedi. Did you liked this article and have suggestions to improve this article? Mail me your suggestions and feedback.

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