Scare in the air: ‘People should not panic over news of heatwaves’

Published: May 9, 2016
Water bottles and juices were handed out by volunteers during the heatwave in Karachi last year. PHOTO: FILE

Water bottles and juices were handed out by volunteers during the heatwave in Karachi last year. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: When the meteorological department predicted a heatwave in April this year, the media reacted as if an epidemic had hit the city. We should not scare people, said Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) emergency director Dr Seemin Jamali.

She was speaking at a talk, ‘Is Karachi Prepared for Climate Change?’, held at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), organised by Never Forget Pakistan and co-arranged by Aiesec and Elaj Trust.

Heat-related emergencies are not supposed to panic the populace, she said, urging the media to not exaggerate the issue.

“It is our social as well as personal responsibility to not panic and take sufficient preventative measures,” she added.

According to Jamali, citizens need to know about the ways to beat the heat. She forbade people from leaving their houses during the heatwave. Labourers should avoid working directly under the sun, especially during peak temperature hours. People should drink plenty of water and avoid drinking tea. “Wear loose clothes of light colours,” she said, adding that last year during the heatwave, the city faced a severe water crisis, which compounded the tragedy.

Children and old people are most vulnerable [to heatstroke] and they must not be exposed to the severe heat. “They should continue consuming water,” she stressed. People with diabetes, kidney issues and heart problems also have to take extra precautions, she stressed.

Speaking on this year’s preparations, she said that last year, JPMC received about 12,000 patients in four days. “This is a figure that no hospital can cater to,” she said, adding that this time they have plenty of cooling areas and enough staff, and stocked about 10,000 water bottles.

On the spree of planation drives in the city, she remarked that planting 0.3 million trees will not prove beneficial unless the trees are nurtured.

Climate change is a new term in Pakistan, said Leadership for Environment and Development, Pakistan, team leader Ibadur Rahman. He said our planet has been enveloped by gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen and oxygen. In densely populated areas, heat islands are formed, where heat is generated from but finds no space to dissipate. Since Karachi is a coastal city, water vapours stop the dissipation of heat here, he explained.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2016.

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