Heat Wave: A Silent Disaster

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Heat Wave: A Silent Disaster


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Presented By:- Kamlesh Jeengar MVSc Scholar, Vety . Gynaecology & Obstetrics A Silent Disaster

What is Heat wave?:

What is Heat wave? A heat wave occurs when there are a number of consecutive days with above average temperature, often combined with high humidity that the body can not tolerate. This unusual and uncomfortable hot weather can impact on human and animal health that cause disruption to community infrastructure such as power supply, public transport and services.

Heat waves kill (and injure):

Heat waves kill (and injure) Heat wave is one of the major disaster for many countries for live lost like other natural disasters Called “silent disaster” Develops slowly and kills (& injure many more) animals and people nationwide in average year... more than any other disaster.

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The condition becomes more severe in May and June in India. As the temperature rises, people, animals and plants suffer from heat stress. Apart from death, every day more and more people have been admitted with suffering sunstroke and severe dehydration, with vomiting and high fever.

Who’s most at risk?:

Who’s most at risk? Babies And Children under four years Outdoor workers (construction, roofers, migrant workers ) Military Seniors or older people living alone Pregnant women, breast feeding mothers and infants

Effect on Human beings::

Effect on Human beings: In many parts of world , every summer , thousands of people suffer from heat stress where their bodies absorb more heat than they can expel. Depletion of salt and electrolyte in the body may cause heat cramp. Hard work under the direct sun, may lead to heat exhaustion. Usually , it is the cumulative effect of hot days without the relief of cool nights and exposure to exhaustion. Because men sweat more than women, men are more susceptible to heat illness because they become more quickly dehydrated.

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In a severe heat wave there is dehydration and body may overheat, leading to a heat related illness. A heat related illness can result in irreversible damage to body, including the brain, or even death. Asphalt and concrete store heat longer and gradually releases heat at night, which produces significantly higher nighttime temperatures in urban areas known as the “urban heat island effect.”


Livestock Like human beings, animals too suffer , particularly when they are left in the direct sun and they do not get adequate water. Domestic animals and poultry birds are particulary vulnerable to heat wave. When there is not enough shade or water for animals, they may change their behavior. Animals will look for shelter from the heat under trees or near bushes, start sweating and panting, drooling, drink more water and have a reduced appetite for food.

Agriculture and crop:

Agriculture and crop Heat waves also damage plants, crops and vegetables. When shearing winds blow and the temperature rises to around 45 ° C , exotic plants perish. When temperature exceeds 45 ° C for a number of days even the traditional species suffer, particularly if they do not receive moisture regularly. In the grazing field not a single blade of grass is available for the cattle. As plants start to die from the effects of heat waves, the threat of  bushfires increases.


Infrastructure During heat wave , the railway lines can expand to the point where they buckle and caused derailment of train. Road damages can also occur with bitumen melting and concrete expanding and having cracks. Long periods of extended heat can soften and crack the asphalt in roads and streets. Concrete streets and highways have been known to shatter explosively from periods of excess heat. Even bridges may have similar type of damages.


Water During hot summer water consumption increases drastically and often causing shortage of drinking water. Lack of water in most of the wells , pond, tube well and other bodies during hot summer seasons, which has an adverse effect on human being and animal population.

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During an extended heat wave the plants and animals suffer from lack of food, water and shelter. During a heat wave algae growth rates increase, which lowers the oxygen content of the water. The reduced oxygen level combined with heat stress can lead to large scale mortality in wild fish. Drought conditions from a heat wave increase the occurrence of wildfires. Wildfire kills many animals and destroys the vegetation. Continued heat wave conditions can also cause plants to fail from lack of rain.

Heat waves and heat disorders:

Heat waves and heat disorders At temperatures above the body’s core temperature (37°C) heat must be dissipated. If heat gain exceeds heat loss, body core temperature rises, and heat disorders occur . Sunburn can retard the body’s ability to shed heat, and may increase the severity of the heat disorder.

Signs and Symptoms of heat related illness:

Signs and Symptoms of heat related illness Sunburn Flushed or pale skin Heat risk or prickly heat Cramps Heat exhaustion Heat stroke Tiredness and weakness Fainting/collapse Nausea/vomiting Headache Dizziness Rapid pulse Changes to the level of consciousness ( eg disorientation, drowsiness) Although the presence of symptoms may vary from individual to individual, below is a list of common signs and symptoms of heat related illness that can affect people.

Heat mortality:

Heat mortality Three times as many people die on extremely hot days as on normal summer days

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Heat wave caused unfold mystery to people all over the world . In 1998 , about 1500 people were died in China and in 1997 about 2000 people fell into heat wave in Greece. Similarly in India the heat wave took 3028 lives in the year 1998 and more than 2000 people in the year 2002. In Orissa, heat wave caused 2042 deaths in 1998 and more than 1200 deaths in 2002 southern India. Data collected by IMD reveals that the average annual loss of human life due to heat wave over India is 153. Heat wave also caused death of wild life such as, monkeys were died in UP and in most of the zoos in India. IMD: Indian Meteorological Department

Prevention during heat wave:

Prevention during heat wave Heat waves can be serious but it is one of the disasters, which can be managed easily. Control the temperature at home In the street, avoid direct sunlight Take care of pets and other animals – they should not be directly exposed to the sun Keep rooms cool by using shade cloth or reflective material on the outside of the window. Limit physical activity at the hottest times of the day

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6. Drink a lot water about 2 to 3 litre daily 7. Listen to local weather forecast so we can know if a heat wave is on the way. 8. AVOID heavy protein foods (e.g. meat, dairy products, etc) which raise body heat and increase fluid loss. 9. If you must go out then wear light weight, light- coloured , loose, porous clothes, a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen and regularly rest in the shade and drink fluids. 10. Do not leave children or pets in parked vehicles. Temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach over 140°F within minutes. Exposure to such high temperatures can kill in minutes.

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the state and district control rooms should make necessary arrangement for flashing the warning through all forms of media. Simultaneously, departments like Health, PHED & other related departments need to remain alert and put necessary emergency measures in place. Interview local officials and representatives of the Department of Agriculture about special steps farmers can take to establish alternative water supplies for their crops and ways to protect livestock and poultry from the effects of extreme heat.

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