Kottayam: With the India Meteorological Department (IMD) issuing a heatwave warning for six districts in Kerala, including Kottayam, the mercury is expected to shoot up by even 3 degrees Centigrade over the next few days. Already, life has become difficult for not only people but also domestic and wild animals in Kottayam district as the average maximum temperature has increased from 36 to 37 degrees Centigrade.
Moreover, under heatwave conditions, cash crops, as well as other farm produce, could also be lost, according to experts. “In case the heatwave conditions continue for several days, a major crisis could develop. We can gain an idea about the effects of heatwave only after a few days,” said Dr C T Aravinda Kumar, Director, School of Environmental Sciences and Pro-Vice Chancellor, MG University, Kottayam.
With the mercury all set to rise, it would be better to take some precautions to keep one’s life and property safe. Here are some suggestions:
Protect your health
People working in open places during the daytime, construction workers and bike riders have the highest health risk under heatwave conditions. Dr B Padmakumar, Professor of Medicine, Govt. TD Medical College Hospital, Alappuzha has advised these people to avoid direct sunlight when the temperature reaches the maximum. “Otherwise, they could suffer sunstroke,” he said.
According to Padmakumar, the working hours of these people should be from 8-11 am and 3-6 pm when severe heat persists. “They should take good rest during the remaining hours,” he said.
“Other people, while outdoors during daytime, should use an umbrella,” added the doctor.
He also said that everyone has to drink plenty of water. “Salted rice gruel, lemon juice and tender coconut juice are ideal,” he said.
Another tip from him is to wear cotton clothes and prefer vegetarian food, especially leafy dishes, during these scorching days.
“In case sunstroke occurs, the victim should be immediately shifted to a shade and rushed to hospital. People suffering from skin ailments and contagious diseases have to avoid direct sunlight at any cost,” the doctor said.
Care for domestic animals, pets
The milk yield of cows would be adversely affected as mercury shoot up. Domestic animals could also die following sunstroke. All animals, except goat, are likely to develop several diseases due to the heat. Foreign dog breeds with long hair, pigs and buffaloes are particularly susceptible to severe heat conditions and their lives are at risk.
Deprived of water sources in the forest, wild animals could stray into adjacent human habitats and not only destroy farmlands but also pose a threat to human beings and domestic animals. Wildlife experts said that the heat could claim the lives of many wild animals in the forest itself.
Effects on farming
Crops such as plantain and vegetables would dry up in the severe heat, unless adequate water is provided. Cash crops and intermediate crops too could be damaged as mercury rises steadily.
Farmers need to take extra care while planting tubers such as elephant yam, yam, colocasia etc., said agricultural experts.
Avoid fire hazards
There are chances of fires as the atmospheric temperature remains high. Apart from human habitations, forests too are at risk of fires. People setting fire to waste materials and dry leaves on house premises and plots should take much care, said authorities. Paddy fields having no crops but covered with dry grass could catch fire easily, they warned.