Heatwave catches citizens off guard

Authorities take to social media to warn public against leaving home during daytime

Qaiser Shirazi May 20, 2024


The ongoing severe heatwave in Rawalpindi has plunged the garrison city into a state of distress, affecting both humans and wildlife alike.

The scorching heat has caused birds to seek refuge in dense trees, while citizens face a surge in health issues such as dysentery, cholera outbreaks, eye swelling and discomfort, headaches, and heat stroke.

According to health officials, the impact on public health has been significant, with the allied hospitals reporting a total of 3,193 patients brought in due to heat-related complications, predominantly children, women, and daily wage labourers.

As the heat wave persists, civic organisations have taken to social media to urge citizens to place water on their rooftops to help birds survive the sweltering temperatures. Animals, too, are seeking shelter under cars and in drains to escape the relentless sun. The heat wave, which begins at 7am and lasts until 7:30pm, shows no signs of abating.

In response to the extreme conditions, Dr Inayat, Deputy Medical Superintendent (DPS) of Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH), has issued health advisories for the citizens. He has strongly advised against leaving home during the afternoon hours unless necessary. He recommended wearing black or green sunglasses to protect eyes from harmful sun rays and carrying a small, wet towel or cloth to help keep cool when outside. It is also suggested to drink a glass of cold water every hour, with an emphasis on consuming lemon soda.

Taking a shower at least once a day is also recommended to help mitigate the effects of the heat.

Dr Inayat also emphasised the need to avoid sticky and oily foods, balls of ice from markets, and ice creams during this period. He advises opting for seasonal vegetables over chicken for the next three months. While watermelon can be consumed, it is crucial to avoid drinking water for at least half an hour after eating it to reduce the risk of cholera.

“Additionally, citizens should avoid bathing in dirty water pools to prevent infections.” Parents have been advised to ensure their children carry a cold bottle of water to school. For those who must work during the day, especially under direct sunlight, it is important to take measures to stay hydrated and protected.

Day labourers are among those most severely affected by the heat wave. The intensity of the heat makes their work conditions increasingly hazardous, leading to a higher incidence of heat-related illnesses.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2024.


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