KARACHI: The scorching heatwave that has gripped Karachi since the start of Ramazan claimed the lives of more than 120 people till late Sunday night, according to health and rescue officials.
“So far, we have received over 50 dead bodies at Jinnah Post-Graduate Medical Centre (JPMC) since Saturday night,” said Dr. Seemin Jamali, head of the hospital’s emergency department.
Talking to media personnel, Dr. Jamali said mortality rate for patients with heat stroke was very high, which was why several of those admitted to JPMC alive could not be revived. She said in total more than 100 people, whether admitted alive or dead, had lost their lives owing to heat-related illnesses at JPMC alone.
“They may have been suffering from different diseases but most of them died of heat stroke or heat exhaustion,” said Dr. Jamali.
A large number of the deceased were old people, she said, but added that a few young patients were admitted in critical condition and later passed away during treatment.
Quoting some of her patients, Dr. Jamali said they had left their homes on Sunday and collapsed.
Karachi Metropolitan Corporation Health Director Salma Kausar said 27 dead bodies had been brought to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital in the past 24 hours, all of whom had died due to heat-related illnesses.
An Edhi Foundation spokesperson said in the past 24 hours his foundation registered 150 dead at the Sohrab Goth Edhi morgue.
“Most of them were brought by their relatives,” said Anwar Kazmi, the Edhi Foundation spokesperson.
“We can’t be sure about the exact causes of their deaths— whether or not they died of heat cannot be ascertained,” said Mr. Kazmi.
But Kazmi did say that relatives of those who died told Edhi volunteers that due to extreme weather conditions, they could not keep dead bodies of their dear ones at home.
While Saturday was the hottest day of this year’s summer in Karachi, where the mercury shot to 45 degrees Celsius, the maximum temperature of 48 degrees Celsius was recorded in three districts of Sindh — Jacobabad, Larkana and Sukkur.
An official at the Pakistan Meteorological Department told Dawn that wind pattern indicated that the relatively cool sea breeze was not blowing and the city was getting hot continental air.
He said that the minimum temperature recorded in Karachi on Saturday was 32 degrees Celsius while humidity — a measure of the amount of moisture in the air — was 45 per cent.
He said that the weather in the city on Sunday was expected to be hot / very hot and dry and the maximum temperature was expected to remain between 40 and 42 degrees Celsius. However, the Met department’s website shows the maximum temperature to range between 44 and 46 degrees Celsius on Sunday.
The highest temperature Karachi has ever experienced was 48 degrees Celsius on May 9, 1938.
The high temperatures were made worse by frequent power outages, sparking protests in several parts of the city of 20 million.
Electricity cuts in turn crippled Karachi's water supply system, hampering the pumping of millions of gallons of water to consumers, the state-run water utility said.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has warned electric supply companies that he would not tolerate power outages during Ramazan, an official in Sharif's office said.
Karachi University in a statement said it had postponed its exams for at least a month due to the extreme weather.
Doctors have advised avoiding exposure to the sun and wearing light cotton clothes.
Also Read: Six die as punishing heatwave bakes Sindh.
It is highly important, how do we prevent our self and family members from heatstroke during the hot summer?
18 May, 2016: As per report of Pakistan Metrological Department the temperature in various cities has risen to critical level during week starting from 15th May 2016. So heat stroke prevention is very important.
Very old saying is very nicely apply here in case of heat stroke during this hot weather “Prevention is better than cure” I will further add even the management of heat stroke patient is tough and of very serious nature.
This year during the month of May 2016 in Pakistan very hot summer is persisting. High temperature approaching 40°C or above is recorded in major cities of Pakistan. Very hot summer is on its peak. .
Likely this weather will continue for week to ten days starting from 15 to 25 May 2016 as per forecast of Pakistan Metrological department.
Temperature recorded in most part of the country during 15-18 May, 2016 is reproduced below:
- Lahore 45°C
- Faisalabad 44°C
- Hyderabad 48°C
- Multan 45°C
- Rawalpindi 39°C
- Peshawar 39°C
- Karachi 38°C equivalent to 45°C
- Sukkur 47°C
- Quetta 38°C.
Due to extreme heat “excessive sweating can result in dehydration, and this will be leading to heat exhaustion.”
It is generally advice to remain in-door as much as possible especially at noon time (11:00 am to 03:00 pm) and don’t unnecessarily expose yourself to heat or sun. Stay in cool and dry place.
Tribune daily of India also reported and cover today (18 May, 2016) on this topic, as per Indian Metrological Department (IMD) they issued ‘severe heat wave’ warning for public of north and central part of India.
Ahmedabad today recorded temperature of 46.9 °C degrees and the city was really boiling.
IMD also issued warning for severe heat which may persist for next three days in part of Gujarat, West & East of Rajasthan, East of Uttar Pradesh and East of Madhya Pradesh
Heat stroke occurs if an individual has been exposing to hot / sizzling weather for a long period. The condition can be due to labor work, physical activities or exposing or sitting in hot condition.
In sun stroke the body temperature raises to 103°F (40°C) or more reaching up to 105°F. This condition is referred as life threatening and need emergency treatment.
If the condition prevails and it remains untreated for longer period it will damage vital organs of the body and may also lead to death.
Heat Stroke Prevention: How to prevent oneself
Sun stroke or heat stroke is life threatening but this can be avoided if we follow the advice and guidelines provided below. The most important is to remain cool (avoid unnecessary exposure to heat) and remain hydrated means to take liquid or water intake frequently.
Below are the guidelines:
- Wear loose and light color clothes.
- Avoid maximum exposure during 11:00 am to 03:00 pm during the severe hot weather at all time.
- Maintain as well as increase fluid intake to avoid dehydration. This is one of the major causes of complication in hot weather.
- Avoid to the maximum to be sun burn. If necessary going out please wear cap or hat to avoid direct exposure.
It has been observed that some people park the car and leave their children or their elderly in the car. It is advised to never leave them in car when it is very hot. This has been observed a cause of heat stroke especially among children.
This has been reported in USA during 1998 to 2012 nearly 500 children died who were left inside the car during hot summer out of which 75% children were under the age of 2 year.
If public follow the simple guidelines as mentioned above to avoid getting heat stroke. They all need to apply simple common sense to avoid unnecessary exposure to the sun in day time. Heatstroke is taken lightly as well as routine and its severity undermined.
To summarize: during these hot days when temperature is ranging between 35-45 or still more, wear loose and light color clothes, have a cold water bottle with you and stay under shade and cool place during day time i.e. from 11:00 am to 03:00 pm..
Article written by Mahmood Hussain for Baby First Pakistan