The mercury shattered all records on Monday, with parts of Delhi touching 48 degrees Celsius, an all-time high for a June day. The previous June high, 47.8 degrees Celsius, was recorded in 2014. Monday’s temperature, 8 notches above normal, was also the highest ever across all months since the city recorded 48.4 degrees Celsius in May 1998.
The hot dry winds swept the Capital making life extremely difficult for residents, especially those who had to venture out for work. The unprecedented weather triggered a record number of heat stroke cases with a massive 40% spike in a week, prompting doctors to declare an emergency and call the situation dangerous.
FEELING THE HEAT
“I had never seen such a hot day in Delhi. The heat is taking a toll on my daily routine and health. With no respite from increasing heat, I am seriously thinking of migrating to a cooler city. I’m sad to see animals and birds suffering badly,” said Anubha Singh (35), who works with an MNC in Gurugram.
Many said they had changed work shifts to adjust with the heat. “Usually I prefer night shifts, but this scorching heat was killing me at my rented accommodation in South Delhi’s Kalkaji. I then switched my shift so that I spend most of the day time in my office,” said Asmita Kaur (29), a private company employee.
THE WORST HIT
The worst affected were people who had to work in the scorching sun throughout the day. “It is tough. But it’s part of our job. Extreme weather cannot be an excuse. We ensure we don’t fall ill. We drink a lot of water and eat appropriate fruits to keep ourselves hydrated,” said traffic head constable Abhimanyu Kumar Singh (45) in South Delhi’s Nehru Place.
Rajkumari Aggarwal, a resident of South Delhi’s Greater Kailash Part-II, was worried about poor people. “We have the AC luxury, but imagine those braving this heat without a roof. The government should provide some facilities to them,” she said.
WHAT DOCTORS SAY
Doctors are reporting at least a 40% increase in symptoms similar to heat stroke in a week. Patients are flooding hospitals in critical condition with high body temperature and heart rate, cramps, headache, loss of consciousness and seizures.
Dr Sanjeev Sinha, professor of internal medicine at AIIMS, said Delhi’s heat wave condition is extremely dangerous. “AIIMS has witnessed a spike of 40% in patients suffering from high-grade fever, vomiting, dehydration, headache and with symptoms of heat stroke.”
Dr Atul Gogia, senior consultant in the internal medicine department at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said, “OPD numbers are up by 40% with patients diagnosed with heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Many are coming with heavy sweating, high body temperature and rapid pulse rate. Our emergency department is running full.”
Doctors said it was essential to drink at least five litres of water daily and eat fruits like water melon and musk melon as they have high water content.
Dr Sanjeev Bagai of Nephron Clinics said children and elderly are at major risks. “This is an emergency situation. 48 degrees Celsius is a threat. Our fluid intake must go up. But mere water will not be effective. Electral is recommended,” he said.
Another city doctor, Pradeep Sharma, said blood pressure fluctuation is very common in such extreme heat. “We have asked patients to take more precautions. A good cooling source is coconut water. Soft drinks and aerated stuff must be avoided,” he said.
He said patients are also complaining of giddiness and headache and even a dry sensation in the mouth. “Those who have been prescribed diuretics for BP management need to be even more careful as they can exhibit symptoms of dehydration and fluid loss,” he added.
Another doctor Richa Singh said a wet towel placed around the neck helps in such dry heat. Bathing often during signs of heat stroke is essential. “It helps in bringing down the body temperature and is as helpful as cold compression during high fever,” she said.
Dietician Anupam Shastri said the key is to eat light food, avoid caffeine and hard liquor. “Butter milk and curd help in maintaining good electrolyte balance,” she said.
Fitness trainers said it’s best to avoid high temperatures. “For those using parks, the advice is to go very early and finish by 7am. If the gym is air conditioned, one can work out but not overdo any activity as you are losing a lot of water,” said Lokesh, a personal trainer.
POWER DEMAND SPIKES
The sweltering heat has sent Delhi’s power demand soaring past all-time high numbers triggering blackouts in certain areas. Power industry experts attribute nearly 50% of Delhi’s power demand during summer months to cooling load such as air conditioners, coolers and fans.
At a temple in East Delhi’s Mayur Vihar, priests told the management they will not be able to sleep in their residential wing unless an air conditioner was installed.
The management was forced to concede to the demand, though the electricity bill has gone up by a few thousand rupees every month.
“But even ACs are not working and it’s unlikely that I’m going to make it to work this week without an off. I think employees should be called early. Last Friday, I suffered from intense headache,” said Gaurav, a sales executive.
AMID A WATER CRISIS
Delhi’s water crisis has already left lakhs of people seething with anger this summer, even in the gated communities. The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) is supplying 900 MGD (million gallons a day) of water, against a peak demand of 1,200 MGD, resulting in a massive shortage.
And it’s not just that. Those lucky to get some water in this scorching heat complain of sewage in the taps. DJB’s tanker supplies are also falling hopelessly short, triggering clashes and allowing the water mafia to thrive, even more.
DUST STORM FORECAST
Weatherman predicted a drop in temperature in the coming days. Southwesterly winds on Tuesday may cause the temperature to drop by one or two notches. However, the heat wave will persist.
There is also a prediction of dust storm on June 11 and 12 and light rain on June 13 along with a dip of 2 degrees in temperature.