India is witnessing a major heat wave, which has claimed more than 2300 lives till 31 May 2015. The most affected regions are Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar and Delhi. The worst affected state is Andhra Pradesh, where the death toll is now 1719. Temperatures have hit almost as high as 48 degrees celsius in some areas. In Delhi, the heat is so intense that it has even melted some of the roads in the city. It is the poor shelterless people who are suffering the most. While there are many who are lucky enough to stay indoors with air conditioners and coolers on, the frequent power cuts have added to the heat wave. Every year, India witnesses intense heat waves during summers, but this year is the worst and the casualties are also very high.
We cannot avoid heat waves as it is a natural phenomenon but we can at least take some preventive measures.
Ways to beat the heat inside the house
• Try to keep the curtains and blinds closed during the daytime. This will block the heat and direct sunlight from entering the rooms.
• At night, when the temperature drops, open windows and doors to let out the accumulated warm air and the cool air to come in.
• Try to lessen the use of electrical appliances like dishwashers, cooking appliances, washing machines during the hottest part of the day as they produce more heat.
• Avoid using bright lights. Use energy saving lights like CFLs.
• Keep your air conditioner and coolers’ filter clean so that dust does not accumulate. Otherwise the cooling effect would reduce.
Personal protection inside the house
• Keep yourself hydrated. Drink lots of water and lemon juice as these are the best drinks during summers. Keep on drinking water even if you are not thirsty.
• Stay cool from the inside out. Try to eat foods and snacks that cool the body like curd, lassi, fresh fruits, cucumbers, lemons, fruit juices, kulfis, ice creams etc. Ripe summer fruits like plums, melons, peaches, and pears are very good.
• Eat light meals at small intervals. Include salads in your diet.
• Consuming leafy vegetables and summer greens are effective ways to stay cool.
• Avoid red meat. Opt for more varieties of fish instead of meat items.
• In order to cool the body through sweating, add small amounts of hot spices like pepper, ginger, red chillies to your food while cooking. These are all great spices which will result in sweating that would eventually help to cool you down.
• While watching TV or just sitting idly soak your feet in cold water. You can add some ice cubes in it.
• Try drinking lemon tea, green tea, iced-tea instead of hot coffee or hot tea. Also avoid carbonated beverages as these make you thirsty.
• Before going to bed at night, have a cold shower. In fact, take showers at regular intervals to keep your body cool.
• You can make your personal cooling-packs using refrigerated barley, rice or wheat-filled bags.
• Do all your regular exercises and outdoor activities either early in the day or late in the evening.
• Go swimming.
• Keep your face clean. Wash your face whenever you feel sticky.
Ways to beat the heat outside the house
• Wear light and loose full sleeve cotton clothes, preferably light colours as they absorb less heat.
• Always apply sunscreen protection cream before going out of the house.
• Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
• Wear a hat to cover your head from the sun. You can also carry an umbrella with you when going out.
• In Delhi, it is better to travel in the Metro during the hot summers.
• Try to use reflective sunshades in the car.
• Before getting into the car and switching on the AC, open the windows first so as to let the hot air out.
• Keep glucose water handy while travelling.
• Carry wet wipes with you to keep your face clean.
• Don’t forget to wear your favourite perfume or deodorant while going out and even when inside to avoid the bad odour when sweating.