“The temperature in Kolkata is likely to touch around 42°C on 15 April. People are advised to take necessary precautions against the predicted heat wave”, said Sanjeev Banerjee, deputy director-general of the Indian Meteorological Department at Alipore.
The IMD special bulletin announced an orange alert for the districts of South Bengal, including Kolkata, South and North 24-Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, East Burdwan, Midnapore and parts of North Bengal between 12-16 April. The recorded temperature till Thursday afternoon was three to five degrees above normal and might rise by one to two degrees more till 17 April. Meanwhile, a 70-year-old taxi driver, Sameer Chowdhury, fainted in the scorching heat.
Doctors at the SSKM Hospital declared him dead. The West Bengal government has announced a bringing ahead of summer vacations in schools. The holidays are to begin from 2 May instead of the scheduled 24 May. For the general population, the heat wave is of mild concern, but it poses a serious health risk to those who are most vulnerable, including children, the elderly, those with chronic illnesses, and those who spend a lot of time in the sun.
Heat rash and cramps are likely. Vegetable plants are highly likely to dry out and livestock is likely to suffer heat damage. People have been advised to stay indoors between 11-4 in the afternoon. Dr Shagufta Yasmin, a Kolkata-based physician, told The Statesman, “Lots of hydration is the key factor to protect ourselves from dehydration. A considerable amount of electrolytes is lost from the body along with sweat.
Consume plenty of fluids in the form of fruit juice, ORS and tender coconut water. Signs of heatstroke include mental confusion, dizziness, rapid breathing and heart rate, nausea and/or vomiting, dry and hot skin along with redness. Seeking medical help is advised on the appearance of the above signs.”
The traffic police force is to get umbrellas and water pouches according to the Police Commissioner of Kolkata. “My father-in-law is 75 and suffers from respiratory issues. He needs regular health check-ups. It’s highly inconvenient for us to bring him out in this scorching summer heat. We’re afraid we might lose him,” said Ahfroza Begum, a passenger on a public bus. In order to avoid the heat, the Dakshineswar Kali Temple is to open its doors for all devotees from 5 in the morning on the occasion of Poila Baisakh.
Debashis Das, hawker union leader, told The Statesman: “The government has advised everyone to stay indoors. The shops need to be opened owing to the festivity of Poila Baisakh, but hawkers shall be resting under shades in the afternoon. Necessary steps shall be taken in order to beat the heat.”