[Answered] Discuss the impact of heat waves on human health. What measures can be taken to prevent heat-related deaths?

Introduction: Define heat wave.

Body: What is its impact on human health? What measures can be taken to prevent such deaths?

Conclusion: Conclude with what should be the way forward.

According to the health ministry, a heatwave condition involves a maximum temperature of at least 40°C or more for plains, 37°C or more for coastal stations, and at least 30°C or more for hilly regions.

What is the impact of heat waves on human health?

  • Heat Stress and Thermoregulation: Prolonged exposure to heat causes heat stress and disallows excess heat to dissipate due to less sweating causing the skin to dry up and affecting our organs.
  • Electrolyte imbalance: Dehydration can disturb the balance of electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium, which are necessary for the proper functioning of muscles, neurons, and internal systems.
  • Heat Stroke: When the body’s core temperature reaches 40 degrees Celsius as a result of prolonged exposure to excessive heat, a heat stroke occurs. The brain, heart, liver, and kidneys can all be damaged or destroyed by heatstroke.
  • Heat Exhaustion:Heat exhaustion may result from the body’s inability to regulate its temperature in the face of extreme heat. Excessive perspiration, exhaustion, nausea, headaches, dizziness, and a rapid heartbeat are some of the symptoms that heat exhaustion.

What measures can be taken to prevent heat-related deaths?

  • Avoid going out at noon: One should avoid going out in direct sunlight between 12 noon and 3 pm.
  • Keep yourself Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids like ORS, water, juice, lassi, lemon water, & buttermilk. One should avoid alcohol, tea, coffee, and carbonated soft drinks as they can cause further dehydration.
  • Take Government advisory seriously: Advisories of IMD, NDMA, and Health Ministry of keeping homes cool by using shades, taking cold baths, and using a damp cloth to keep body temperature low should be taken seriously.
  • Heat action plans: There should be an implementation of heat action plans across all three tiers of governance with special attention to panchayats and municipalities in spreading awareness regarding the effects of heat waves. Evidence from Ahmedabad shows that such cooperation results in a 30% to 40% reduction in mortality in the city.


Special focus should be given to old age, children, and persons with co-morbidities conditions to prevent heat stroke-related deaths. Indian Council of Medical Research can help to develop short-term and long-term plans in coordination with other agencies to prevent such deaths.

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