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Research Last Updated: Jun 28, 2019 - 11:15:59 AM

Intense Heat Waves Becoming New Normal Worldwide
By E. Kalair and N. Khan, COMSATS 26/6/19
Jun 27, 2019 - 10:31:27 AM

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Heat waves affect humans, animals and birds. Flying birds fall on earth due to dehydration. We must take lot of water during heat wave to enable our bodies to cope with temperature by sweating. Heat wave is a disaster that may be treated like hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. Small children and elders are more vulnerable to heat waves than youngsters.

A heat wave is a period of excessively hot weather for a few days. The severity of heat wave increases in the presence of higher humidity. The heat wave is normally measured relative to the typical weather of area and usual temperatures for the season. A normal temperature for one hot region may be heat wave for other colder regions. It is measure of relative deviation from normal weather.

Climate change experts note a global increase in heat wave frequency, duration and intensities during last two decades. Heat waves cause water, food and energy shortages due to high demand. Electricity generation efficiency declines and transmission capacity often decreases during heat wave.

Heat wave is one of the direct consequences of climate change. Human activities such as combustion of fossil fuels for comforts and economies has created this giant that is now difficult to cap in bottle. Investors with $34 trillion, half of global investment, demand urgent climate change action. World leaders agreed in Paris in 2015 to limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial times, but actual policies have put the world on track for at least a 3°C rise by 2100 [Simon 2019].

IPPC experience shows rise in GHG emissions due to human activities and NOAA observations show rise of temperature with rise in CO2 concentrations. However, some experts relate it to celestial changes like sun spots and increasing solar radiation intensities. Sun creates light and heat by fusion of hydrogen into helium. Depletion of hydrogen over time will shift nuclear fusion from hydrogen to helium that produces more heat by increasing sun size. Celestial changes are beyond human access but the terrestrial causes such as GHG emissions may be mitigated [Jan 2005].

It is more important to adapt to changing climate by opting new ways of life. Air conditioner supplies chill during heat wave and also drives the climate change. Trees provide chill by mitigating the climate. Rampant rise in industry, population and deforestation is the primary cause of climate change. A carbon neutral power, industry and way of life is the ultimate solution of climate change.

After Australia and India the Europe is suffering from extreme heat wave these days. Heat wave of 2019 has broken 70 years record of heat waves in Europe. The summer heat wave of 2003 killed at least 30,000 people inflicting 13 billion Euros financial damages. Europe is bracing for heat wave this week that may make 2019 even hotter than 2018 [Umair 2019]. Rise in power consumption during heat wave further worsen the outside temperature due to thermal Island effect.

Nature uses optimum and most economical solution of complex problems. Nature inspired technologies and algorithms are ideal solution for climate change and heat wave problems. Coating building envelope white reflects most of incident solar flux. Simple whitening of building roof reduces interior temperature by 5 to 7°C. Don’t cool your home by heating the planet.

Drink water and use evaporative water coolers instead of air conditioners to avoid further heating of the air around your home. AC pumps heat outside consuming electricity that comes from coal power plants. Power system efficiency also falls during intense heat waves. Beat the heat with solar and wind power to reduce GHG emissions.

Energy deficient countries face more serious situation due to reduction in generation and rise in power demand capacities. Rolling blackout further intensify the heat waves in rural and urban areas. Everybody has risk of suffering from heat wave, especially kids, elders, patients and pregnant women. Minor exposure to heat wave can be managed at home, but serious victims need hospitalization.

Everybody needs to take care to avoid heat wave exposure and incumbents are expected to take good preventive measures to guard citizens during heat wave. Government institutions set up cold spots in city and ensure uninterrupted water supply during heat wave period. According to Sahar the symptoms of heat stroke during heat wave are [Sahar 2018].

Heatstroke Symptoms

Very High Blood pressure

Red, hot and dry skin (Without sweat)

A dry and swollen tongue

Rapid pulse

A throbbing headache

Dizziness, confusion, and nausea

Eventual unconsciousness

Preventive Measures against Heatstroke

Make sure you dress yourself and your kids in “minimal, loose-fitting and lightweight clothing”

Drink plenty of fluids

Take regular showers more than once a day

Keep the environment as cool as possible – keep curtains drawn and minimal light

Be extra careful while administering any medicines since they may have certain harmful side effects (including causing dehydration)

Never stay in a parked car or any confined space without proper ventilation

Replace fatty foods with low-fat alternatives

Keep out of the sun

Avoid using any heat radiating devices such as hair straighteners and hair dryers

Limit your physical exhaustion by limiting physical activity

Try to stay away from kitchens and laundry rooms

Heat stroke victims should be hospitalized as soon as possible, if it is unavoidable somehow, then patients may be given first aid. It is common observation the poorly ventilated areas and vigorous physical activities in hot weather increases the risk of dehydration and heat strokes. When somebody is already suffering from the heat stroke then you should take following steps while waiting for an ambulance [Sahar 2018]. One can differentiate between heat exhaustion and heat stroke from conditions shown in Fig.1


Fig.1 Symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke [tweet 2016].

Emergency Steps for Heatstroke Victims


Wet victim’s skin with water or wrap it in a wet cloth after removing as much clothing from his body as possible or give them an ice bath

Fan the person continuously

Do not give the person fluids to drink

Position an unconscious person on their side and clear the air ways

Apply ice packs to the patient’s armpits, groin, neck and back. These areas are rich with blood vessels and close to the skin so cooling them may reduce body temperature.

Monitor his body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops below 38°C (as normal body temperature is 37°C).

Our body’s failure to regulate its temperature is called heat stroke. According to heat wave treatment experts the common Dos and Don’ts during heat wave are as follows: [Amal 2018].

Things to Do

Prefer homemade juices such as fruit juices, lemonade and salted milk lassi.

Drink lot of water and eat yoghurts (prefer homemade)

Cover head and nape. Wear loose and light clothes. Try to stay in cool place.

Spray water on your body and use hand fans during load shedding.

Things Not to Do

Do not drink fluids with Caffeine and sugar.

Stop taking alcoholic drinks during heat wave.

Avoid direct exposure to sun from 12 to 3pm.

Do not spend lot of time in front of stove.

Avoid heavy and oily fast foods.

National Met Office usually issues warning of heat waves. Heat wave Level 1 alert means be prepared for heat wave. Level 2 alert means the heat wave is forecast, Level 3 alert means heat wave have started and Level 4 alert means a severe heat wave. Heat wave risks include dehydration (not having enough water), overheating (which can make symptoms worse for people who already have problems with their heart or breathing), heat exhaustion and heatstroke. According to National Health Service (NHS) people vulnerable to heat wave are [NHS 2019]:

Who Is Vulnerable to Heat Wave

Older people, especially those over 75

Babies and young children

People with a serious chronic condition, especially heart or breathing problems

People with mobility problems – for example, people with Parkinson's disease or who have had a stroke

People with serious mental health problems

People on certain medications, including those that affect sweating and temperature control

People who misuse alcohol or drugs

People who are physically active – for example, labourers or those doing sports

British NHS advises citizens to


  1. Shut windows and pull down the shades when it is hotter outside. You can open the windows for ventilation when it is cooler.
  2. Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun and don't go out between 11am and 3pm (the hottest part of the day) if you're vulnerable to the effects of heat.
  3. Keep rooms cool by using shades or reflective material outside the windows. If this isn't possible, use light colored curtains and keep them closed (metallic blinds and dark curtains can make the room hotter).
  4. Have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool water.
  5. Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol – water, lower-fat milks and tea and coffee are good options. You can also drink fruit juice, smoothies and soft drinks, but they can be high in sugar. Limit fruit juice or smoothies to a combined total of 150ml a day, and choose diet or sugar-free soft drinks.
  6. Listen to alerts on the radio, TV and social media about keeping cool.
  7. Plan ahead to make sure you have enough supplies, such as food, water and any medications you need.
  8. Identify the coolest room in the house so you know where to go to keep cool.
  9. Wear loose, cool clothing, and a hat and sunglasses if you go outdoors.
  10. Check up on friends, relatives and neighbors who may be less able to look after themselves.

Heat stroke (sun stroke) raises body temperature above 40°C that can affect the brain. Body sweating helps maintain body temperature at 37°C.  Heat wave may cause heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat cramps, heat syncope and heat exhaustion are minor body overheating risks compared heat stroke. Heat stroke is the most dangerous form of heat injury by long exposure amounting to medical emergency. Rising risks and care levels during heat wave are shown in Fig.1 [Pinterest 2019].

Exertion heat stroke (EHS) occurs in humans (also animals), when body thermoregulation is beat by excessive metabolic production of heat (exertion), excessive environmental heat and impaired heat loss, resulting in high body temperature (hyperthermia).  Hot and humid environment reduces body cooling capacity by perspiration and evaporative cooling. Hyperthermia kills the enzymes regulating biochemical reactions essential for cellular respiration for functioning of major organs [Faucy 2008]. Effective temperature during heat increases in humid weathers during heat wave as feel temperature at -31°C during cold wave falls down to -55°C. Heat stroke leads to hyperthermia at more than 40.6°C in absence of sweating. Sweating maintains temperature at 37°C even during more than 50°C temperature. Heat strokes take life of 600 people a year in USA [Gaudio, 2016].

Heat stroke chances increase during heat wave. Heat waves had caused 70,000 deaths in Europe in 2003, 1500 deaths in Pakistan in 2015 [Dana 2018]. It is advised to not sit inside parked car as sunshine at normal 21°C outside temperature can raise inside temperature to 49°C. Maximum recorded temperature was 53.9±0.1°C in Kuwait and 53.7±0.4°C in Turbat Pakistan. Turbat region in Pakistan is the area which has 5000 years old trees. Planting hardwood trees is an ideal solution to absorption of CO2 in air. We may use direct CO2 capturing technologies to reduce its concentration in air.

Planting a long life hardwood tree is a continuing charity. Tall trees are 7/24 factories converting CO2 into oxygen, fruits and woods. Wherever we plant trees these help the whole world. Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, has completed I billion tree project and started a new 10 billion tree project to help mitigate climate of SAARC countries.


Medical care level during heat cramp, heat syncope and heat stroke



Simon J, Nina C, Exclusive: Investors with $34 trillion demand urgent climate change action, Reuters, 26 June 2019. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climatechange-investment-letter-exclu/exclusive-investors-with-34-trillion-demand-urgent-climate-change-action-idUSKCN1TQ31X


Jan V, Celestial Climate Driver: A Perspective from Four Billion Years of the Carbon Cycle, Geoscience Canada, 32 (1), 2005.


Umair I, 104 degrees in Madrid: why Europe is so vulnerable to extreme heat, VOX News, 26 June 2019. https://www.vox.com/world/2019/6/26/18744518/heat-wave-2019-europe-france-germany-spain

Sahar I, Karachi Heatwave Alert: 11 Ways to Prevent Heatstroke!, Brandsynario, 21 May 2018.


tweet https://twitter.com/usatodayweather/status/761239522134884352, 4 August 2016

Amal: facebook.com/amal.empower2018

Fauci, Anthony; et al. (2008). Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine (17th ed.). McGraw-Hill Professional. pp. 117–121. ISBN 978-0-07-146633-2.

NHS, https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/heatwave-how-to-cope-in-hot-weather/#who-is-most-at-risk, accessed 3 April 2019.

Pinterest, Heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps: symptoms and treatment/First Aid, https://www.pinterest.com/pin/302726406200668790/?lp=true accessed 4 April 2019

Gaudio, FG; Grissom, CK (April 2016). "Cooling Methods in Heat Stroke". The Journal of Emergency Medicine. 50 (4): 607–16. doi:10.1016/j.jemermed.2015.09.014

Dana GS, As summers get hotter, death tolls will rise, Popular Science, 28 August 2018. https://www.popsci.com/heatwave-summer-hot-weather-deadly

Source:Ocnus.net 2019

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