We all think we know what a heat wave is like. Yet in reality we only ever experience the highs of temperature that exist in our own country. If you think 25 degrees Celsius is hot, try living in India. They have been experiencing a heat wave that has seen temperatures go much higher than this. They’ve reached a peak of 45 degrees Celsius and above in some areas. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are among the worst-affected.
As you can imagine, living through temperatures this high is harmful to your health. Indeed, the death toll being attributed to the heat wave has reached around 1,800 people at the time of writing. The death toll has climbed sharply in the space of just one week. Officials fear the final toll could top 2,000.
At the time of writing officials suspected there could be another day or two of high temperatures yet to come. This is not an unusual situation in India, since the summer months there can become stiflingly hot before the monsoon season gets underway. Clouds have been seen forming over some areas already, but they have yet to drop the precious water many are craving to bring an end to the high temperatures. Even Delhi, the capital city, has seen temperatures creeping up to 45 degrees Celsius recently.
While the country is still a way off the record-breaking temperatures seen in India in 1956, when they reached 50.6 degrees Celsius, the current temperatures are way too high for many. Those living in the affected areas are used to heat waves but they can last for varying periods each year. Sometimes as few as five days are experienced, while at other times the heat wave can last much longer.
Many are being told to stay indoors and to drink plenty of water to try and remain cool and hydrated. However some are unable to leave their jobs and this means there is an increased risk of heat-related illnesses such as dehydration and its real risks to health.
When the monsoon finally arrives it will be a blessed relief to many in India. While temperatures have dropped by a degree or two in recent days, it has not been enough to reduce the very real risk of dehydration, delirium and even death that is present for many. It is thought that the sudden change from cool weather to a heat wave has also led to more deaths. Rather than being able to adjust gradually, people have been subjected to a sudden and severe change, with the mercury rising considerably throughout the space of the last week.
We can but hope things cool down soon and those living in the affected areas return to normal so they can get on with their lives without fearing the consequences of this heat wave.