Heatwave precautionary measures | By Muhammad Zahid Rifat


Heatwave precautionary measures

UNPRECEDENTED heaviest rains and flash floods in the rivers last year had hit almost one third of Pakistan in Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces and had caused massive losses and damages. It was something nightmarish for everyone in the country. Almost 1731 people had lost their lives, more than 12000 were injured, standing crops over a couple of lakhs acres of land were washed away, large number of houses were either washed away or extensively damaged in the affected areas, numerous structures, brides and roads were also uprooted or swept away.

The massive devastation, which was much more than 2020 floods, was mostly caused due to unpreparedness on the part of the federal and provincial government agencies and departments concerned to say the least. By and large, the people were also caught by this onslaught but of heavy rains and floods.

It is good to note and worth appreciable that the federal and provincial governments’ concerned departments, agencies and others have learnt a lot from the massive devastation caused by the unprecedented, unexpected and even unscheduled heavy rains and floods of 2022 which were caused by climate change and heatwave through melting of the snow glaciers and bursting of the snow clouds .

National Disaster Management Authority (NDA), the apex body for dealing with the natural disasters and taking remedial measures, has already issued somewhat comprehensive guidelines for all concerned down the line at the federal and provincial levels alerting them in advance to be all prepared for the upcoming summer season this year.

The NDMA guidelines have cautioned all that with the onset of summer season, heatwaves, forest fires and glacier lake outburst flood events can be expected to happen and occur across the country respectively in the hazard prone areas. Based on the vulnerability of different regions the impacts as such can vary hence requiring requisite preparations by the respective disaster management authorities , rescue agencies, line departments and administrations at the federal and provincial levels, in Gilgit-Baltistan as well as Islamabad Capital Territory.

All these agencies, health departments, line departments, rescue agencies, armed forces, federal ministries and departments have been directed to undertake proactive measures on a priority basis to ensure timely preparations and response against likely hazards.

In case of heatwave, Provincial Disaster Management authorities in collaboration with District DF Disaster Management Authorities/Local Administration have been asked to carry out extensive awareness campaigns for sensitizing the public at large of likely dangers associated with heatwave like conditions and associated preventive measures.

All the ministries, departments and local administration have been asked to undertake required measures for protecting children from exposure to heatwave conditions in the educational institutions throughout the country. Accordingly, high risk areas have also been asked to be identified and establishment of heatstroke treatment centres fully equipped with the required doctors, para-medical staff, medicines and water.

Furthermore, the Federal Ministry of Health Services, Regulations and Coordination has been asked to issue necessary instructions to all concerned down the line for enhancing departmental and hospital capacities in order to effectively, adequately and properly manage heatwave conditions.

Besides issuing essentially required directions and instructions to all concerned agencies, institutions, departments and others at thee federal ,provincial and district levels, the NDMA has also advised the people at large to take and observe necessary precautionary measures for offsetting adverse effects of possibility of upcoming heatwave, individually as well as collectively, as the climate changes are rapidly taking place around the globe changing the weather patterns much to the surprise of the people everywhere. In Pakistan itself, weather temperature is already showing upward trend in March which is supposed to be month of spring and being quite pleasant generally.

The people have been advised to remain hydrated, drink sufficient quantity of water, keep a drinking water handy for regular intake, stay cool, avoid unnecessary and unessential exposure to direct sunlight and crowded spaces, remain informed and updated, keep track of local weather conditions in order to avoid exposure to extreme weather conditions and in case of any signs of illness consult a qualified physician and take prescribed medicines accordingly.

On its part, the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has also issued a strong warning to the people in the length and breadth of the country.

Accordingly, the warning issued by the weather pundits has told the people at large that the country is likely to experience extremely hot days in the coming summer months. The country, it said, was likely to witness higher than usual temperatures during the upcoming season, the intensity of the heat was expected to be more than normal from this month of March to May due to less than normal rains, due to decrease of 77 per cent in rainfall in February 2023, the average day and night temperatures were recorded at 3 to 5 degree Celsius resulting in a possibility of a further increase in the intensity of heat, with temperatures higher than normal predicted not only for March but also for months of April and May.

As per the PMD warning, previously the average temperatures during March recorded as up to 26 Celcius with a slight increase being observed last year, however, this year’s temperatures are expected to be even higher leading to an intense heat wave in the coming months.

Accordingly, the weather pundits have advised the people to take necessary precautionary measures to avoid heat-related illnesses and staying hydrated during the summer season.

Besides sounding a stern warning to the people, the weather pundits have also urged the federal and provincial governments to take necessary measures on a priority basis for mitigating the adverse effects of the heat wave and minimizing its impact on the population both in the urban and rural areas of the country.

As Pakistan braces itself for the upcoming more than normal hot season, the authorities from top to down levels as the citizens alike direly need to remain vigilant and take necessary precautionary steps to protect themselves and their families and children from the anticipated extremely hot temperatures, please.

—The writer is retired Deputy Controller (News), Radio Pakistan, Islamabad.

Email: [email protected].