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5 essential tips to survive the heat wave in India

A blistering heat wave has been sweeping India for the past few weeks. An NDTV report published on 29 April said the India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted another heat wave across northwest and central India in the following days.

Although heat waves in northern India are a regular phenomenon, it has been particularly unforgiving in April 2022. According to the Monthly Weather and Climate summary issued by the IMD, April was the third warmest month in India in over 122 years. This was after March — a month that is usually pleasant before it gets extremely hot — became the warmest ever in the same period breaking 56 all-time records for heat waves.

Heat waves can be fatal

According to a report published by Indian meteorologists in 2021, heat waves have killed over 17,000 people in 50 years.

But what are heat waves? The extreme weather phenomenon occurs when temperatures cross 40 degrees Celsius in the plains, 37 degrees Celsius in coastal areas and 35 degrees Celsius in the hills. In all cases, heat waves can cause dizziness, vomiting, headache, dehydration, sunburn and even heat stroke.

It is, therefore, imperative to take necessary steps to protect yourself from falling sick, especially for those who cannot avoid stepping out.

While most of these are connected to lifestyle changes, they are easy to adopt as well. Additionally, it is best to avoid unnecessary travel, especially with children, and carry a first aid kit.

Here are some tips to tackle the heat wave in India

Drink sufficient water

heat wave in India
Image: Courtesy of Nigel Msipa/@nigelm23/Unsplash

Water is one of the most essential things to beat the heat. Sufficient intake of water helps to keep the body hydrated even in scorching temperatures. Always travel with safe drinking water, even if you are taking the usual route to the office or going on a shopping spree. Refill it from a safe water dispenser or buy bottled water if the one you are carrying runs out.

Have refreshing juices

Refreshing juice
Image: Courtesy of Taylor Grote/@taylor_grote/Unsplash

Besides water, healthy fruit juices are a great way to survive the heat wave in India. However, consuming freshly squeezed fruit juices is a better option than buying packaged ones, as the latter usually includes preservatives.

Summer coolers such as watermelon juice and lemon squash are great for the body. They help stay hydrated and provide the much-needed energy. A strict ‘no’ would be for beverages such as tea and coffee.

Another drink you can have to beat the heat is lassi or Indian buttermilk. Lassi is one of the most famous traditional drinks of India and can be found at both roadside eateries and restaurants.

Eat fresh foods

Eat fresh fruits
Image: Courtesy of Brooke Lark/@brookelark/Unsplash

The finest way to ensure that the body remains fit and is not fatigued by the loss of fluids is to follow a healthy diet. The heat wave in India is too severe for oily and fried dishes. So bid goodbye to pakoras (fried fritter) and samosas (fried pastry), and include lots of fresh green leafy vegetables and salads.

Eat fresh fruits — nothing is better than watermelon, cucumber, tomatoes and muskmelon in the summers. The fresher the food is, the better it is for the body. This means refrigeration for a long time should be avoided.

Additionally, as cumin and fennel seeds have cooling properties, they can be added to juices or had with water every morning.

Use sunscreen

heat wave in India
Image: Courtesy of BATCH by Wisconsin Hemp Scientific/@batch_by_whs/Unsplash

Staying indoors during summers is not always a feasible option. You have to step out to either go to work or run errands. Thus, while the intake of water and fresh foods keeps the body healthy from within, cosmetics like sunscreens shield the skin from the damaging rays of the sun.

Sunscreen lotions provide excellent protection for the skin and help prevent sunburns, skin cancer and rashes. Before stepping out or even if you are indoors, apply sunscreen on the face and other exposed parts of the body. Opt for dermatologically tested sunscreens or consult a doctor before investing in a good sunscreen.

Wear lighter shades and breathable fabric

Breathable fabric
Image: Courtesy of Scotty Turner/@thinkscotty/Unsplash

Choosing the right kind of clothes is equally essential to survive the heat wave in India. One way to do so is to wear loose-fitting apparel made with light fabrics. So, putting those pairs of jeans away is a good idea for summer.

Breathable fabrics such as 100-percent linen and cotton are one of the best choices. The colours are also important as they can affect the amount of sunlight a cloth absorbs. The general rule is the lighter, the better. This means lots of whites, pale blues, pale yellows and light greens, to name a few.

Additionally, when stepping out on foot, carry an umbrella to protect yourself from the sun. You can also cover your arms with long cotton gloves and head with a scarf or a hat.

Hero image: Joanna Kosinska/@joannakosinska/Unsplash; Featured image: Ravi Sharma/@ravinepz/Unsplash

Manas Sen Gupta
Manas enjoys reading detective fiction and writing about anything that interests him. When not doing either of the two, he checks Instagram for the latest posts by travellers. Winter is his favourite season and he can happily eat a bowl of noodles any time of the day.
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