Heed early warnings; stay safe this summer


Heat wave is a killer. Even more so as not only it affects major parts of our country for a long period but also because we fail to treat it as a major health concern. Heat wave can cause psychological stress, heat stress and exhaustion, and even death. World Health Organisation (WHO) says that global climate change is projected to further increase the frequency, intensity and duration of heat waves and attributable deaths.

It may not be possible to halt the onslaught of a heat wave but it is very well possible to predict its attack. India Meteorological Department (IMD) uses advanced early warning technology to accurately predict heat wave days in advance and issue timely warnings.
Currently, it uses a four-colour coding system - green, yellow, orange and red - to signify a normal day, a heat alert, a severe heat alert and an extreme heat alert, respectively. You can look for these easy-to-understand heat alerts on IMD's website and plan your day accordingly. Local newspapers, TV channels and radio stations, etc. also carry information on heat alerts.

(No action)
Normal Day
Maximum temperatures are near normal
Comfortable temperature. No cautionary action required.
Yellow Alert
(Be updated)
Heat Alert
Heat wave conditions at district level, likely to persist for 2 days
Moderate temperature.

Heat is tolerable for general public but moderate health concern for vulnerable people e.g. infants, elderly, people with chronic diseases.

Avoid heat exposure.
Orange Alert
(Be prepared)
Severe Heat Alert for the day
(i) Severe heat wave conditions may persist for 2 days.

(ii) With varied severity, heat wave is likely to persist for 4 days or more.
High temperature.

Increased likelihood of heat illness symptoms in people who are either exposed to sun for a prolonged period or doing heavy work.

High health concern for vulnerable people e.g. infants, elderly, people with chronic diseases.

Avoid heat exposure – keep cool. Avoid dehydration.
Red Alert
(Take Action)
Extreme Heat Alert for the day
(i) Severe heat wave may persist for more than 2 days.

(ii) Total number of heat/severe heat wave days likely to exceed 6

Very high likelihood of developing heat illness and heat stroke in all ages.

Extreme care needed for vulnerable people.

Once we know about an imminent heat wave, we must spread the information to our family, friends, neighbours and anyone else we come in contact with. It is essential to help ourselves, help others and most importantly, help others to help themselves so that our capacity to face a heat wave as a people is built over time.

Watch this short video on heat wave early warning here.

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