A heatwave occurs when both maximum and minimum temperatures rise above normal levels for a duration exceeding three days at a specific location. Typically, heatwaves manifest between March and June, with occasional extensions into July. Despite their gradual onset, heatwaves are often referred to as ‘silent disasters’ due to their incremental development. The United Nation’s (UN) World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) annual State of the Global Climate report confirms 2023 as the hottest year on record and forewarns of worsening conditions in 2024. This prediction is underscored by the concerning statistics of 252 reported heat-related fatalities in India during 2023 summer. Further, authorities across the region like the India Meteorological Department (IMD) have cautioned about an increased frequency of exceptionally warm days during the hot weather season (April to June) in 2024, raising concerns. Multiple countries in the Asia-Pacific region, such as India, Japan, Malaysia, and Thailand, are already issuing early heatwave warnings and advisories.

The coincidence of this hot weather season with general elections in countries like India (scheduled from 19 April to 01 June 2024) and South Korea (starting from 10 April 2024) poses heightened risks. Intense political rallies, campaign activities, and the voting process amplify these risks. Last year, Mumbai witnessed ten heat stroke-related deaths during a political gathering in April
2023, marking the highest-ever heat-related death toll from a single event in India. Consequently, extensive security and safety measures are anticipated to ensure public safety. Given the significance of these national events, it is imperative for businesses to remain vigilant regarding the anticipated risks associated with an impending heatwave in the region.

What causes a heatwave?

Heatwaves are generally the result of trapped air.
They occur when a system of high atmospheric pressure
moves into an area and lasts two or more days.

  • Heat waves form when high pressure aloft (3,000-7600 metres) strengthens and remains over a region for several days up to several weeks
  • High-pressure systems force air download
  • This force prevents air near the ground from rising
  • The sinking air acts like a cap. It traps warm ground air in place

Symptoms and First Aid:

Heat DisorderSymptomsFirst Aid
SunburnSkin redness and pain, possible swelling, blisters, fever, headaches.1.Cold shower
2. Medical aid in case blister develops.
Heat CrampsPainful spasms usually in leg and abdominal muscles or extremities, heavy sweating.1. Application of firm pressure on cramping muscles or gentle massage to relieve spasm.
2. Adequate hydration.
Heat ExhaustionHeavy sweating, weakness, pale skin, headache and clammy, weak pulse, fainting, vomiting.1. Application of cool, wet cloth; relax in a cool and dry place.
2. Seek immediate medical attention in case of vomiting.
Heat Strokes1. High body temperature (106+ Degrees Fahrenheit).
2. Hot, dry skin
3. Rapid and strong pulse, heavy sweating and unconsciousness, sweating unlikely.
1. Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency. Call an ambulance, delay can be fatal.
2. Try a cool bath or sponging to reduce body temperature.
3. Avoid fluids.

Vulnerable Population Groups:

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Heatwave Intensity:

Heatwaves are classified into three types, based on intensity

Intensity Low-intensitySevere Heatwaves Extreme Heatwaves
Frequency High Less frequent Typically infrequent
Health ImpactMost people can copeDifficult for vulnerable populationsAffects everyone, in absence of suitable precautions

Areas Experiencing Heatwaves in India


Government Advisory Issued So Far-

  • India: The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has instructed to avoid stepping outside between 1200-1500 hours to minimise the impact of the heatwave. In view of the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections, the Union Health Ministry has advised political campaigners and voters in general to stay hydrated, cool, beware of heat related signs, symptoms and seek medical care. Also, people have been advised to drink a lot of water even when not thirsty as thirst is not a good indicator of dehydration.
  • For detailed Public Health Advisory issued by National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), refer to – https://ncdc.mohfw.gov.in/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/NPCCHH_Public-health-advisory_Extreme-heat_Heatwave_2024.pdf
  • Karnataka: The Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) has advised people to stay indoors during peak time (200-1500 hours). Furthermore, it has urged individuals to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and abstaining from alcohol, tea, coffee, carbonated beverages that can cause dehydration. It also advised people to prefer wearing lightcoloured, cotton clothes. Moreover, it has asked to make use of sunglasses, umbrella or hats when stepping out. It has also asked people to seek medical advice if they experience dizziness or feel sick.
  • Telangana: The state government asked people to avoid getting out in the sun, especially between 1200-1500 hours and the state health department asked people to avoid alcohol, tea, coffee and carbonated soft drinks or drinks with large amounts of sugar as they lead to loss of more body fluids or may cause stomach cramps.
  • Bihar: The Bihar Disaster Management Authority (BDMA) has urged the administration to reduced public transport during afternoon hours. It has also advised that working hours of labourers engaged in various construction and developmental works be fixed between 0600-1100 hours and 1530-1830 hours.

Heatwave-prone Countries in APAC

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  • Ensure adequate water and power backups to mitigate the risk of unscheduled power outages during prolonged hot weather conditions.
  • Conduct regular inspections and servicing of appliances, including laptops, to prevent overheating and reduce the risk of fire or electrical hazards.
  • Offer flexible work arrangements (schedule strenuous/ on- site jobs during low temperature hours, permit frequent breaks), to limit employees’ exposure to hot weather.
  • Prepare for potential delays in supply chain operations due to the suspension of trains and other transport modes caused by warping due to intense heat and electoral campaign activities.
  • Provide training and resources to employees on heatwave preparedness and emergency response, including first aid training and access to cooling facilities.
  • Appoint a doctor/ general physician in the office building.
  • Advised to pay extra attention to people in the high-risk category including pregnant workers and workers with pre-existing medical conditions especially including heart related issues.
  • Establish a complete heat illness prevention program.
  • Maintain stocks of ORS solution.
  • Turn off machines (printers, photocopiers, projectors, etc) when not in use.
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  • Avoid non-essential outdoor activities during peak heat hours (1200-1600 hours).
  • Avoid engaging in strenuous physical activity in the afternoon.
  • Refrain from intense physical activity in case feeling unwell.
  • Carry water and food/fluids with glucose when stepping outdoors.
  • Avoid consuming food or beverages that are not stored properly or exposed to the sun for an extended period.
  • Avoid alcohol, tea, coffee and carbonated soft drinks, which dehydrates the body.
  • Recognise the symptoms of heat stroke, heat rash or heat cramps and take adequate rest indoors or consult a doctor.
  • Advised to wear cotton or lightweight clothes and use umbrella, cap, and sunglasses.
  • Advised to remain vigilant of heatwave-related advisories issued by competent authorities. For updates by National Disaster Management Authority, refer to – https://ndma.gov.in/index.php/Natural-Hazards/Heat-Wave or call 108/102 for any assistance.

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