Heatwave: Centre asks states to review health preparedness, issues dos & don’ts

As a severe heatwave continues, the Centre has asked states and Union Territories to review their healthcare preparedness and issued a list of dos and don’ts to prevent heat-related illnesses.

In a letter, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan has also urged for uninterrupted power supply for cooling appliances. Amidst a power shortage across the country, use of solar cells has been suggested “wherever possible”.

The weather department has predicted above-normal temperatures for central, western, and northern India, where mercury has already hit 46° Celsius in many places, a recorded deviation of 6° Celsius from normal, the letter says.

While asking healthcare facilities to remain prepared with essential medicines and consumables such as IV fluid, ORS, ice packs and cool drinking water, the Centre has issued a list of guidelines to prevent and manage heat-related problems.

While advising people to remain indoors during the hot parts of the day, the guidelines suggest people cover their head with umbrellas or caps while stepping out.

“Reschedule or plan outdoor activities during the cooler parts of the day,” the guidelines state, adding people must remain well-hydrated and drink water regularly even if not thirsty.

The guidelines, however, advise against consumption of alcohol, hot beverages or carbonated drinks.

People have been asked to contact the 108/ 102 helplines should they experience any heat-related symptoms such as high body temperature, unconsciousness or a state of confusion, or lack of sweat.

A core body temperature above 40° C or 104° F, muscle weakness and cramps, nausea and vomiting, besides a rapid heart beat and shallow breathing have been identified as a medical emergency.

In children, refusal to eat, excessive irritability, decreased urine output, lethargy or absence of tears are danger signs, the guidelines say.

The guidelines also has a section for employers, who have been asked to provide cool drinking water at workplaces and ensure people consume it every 20 minutes.

Besides allowing for more breaks, employers have also been asked to provide shaded areas for work and schedule outdoor work for cooler parts of the day.

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