Beware of soaring heat on poll trail, doctors advise candidates, activists

poll trail
Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president K Muraleedharan wiping his sweat with a towel at a rally as Congress leaders Hibi Eden MLA (C) and VD Satheesan MLA look on. Photo: Manorama

Kozhikode: As the poll heat intensifies along with soaring day temperatures, nearing 40 degree Celsius, physicians are warning candidates as well as political workers on campaign trail in Kerala to avoid direct exposure to sun from noon to at least 3 pm. Patients already under treatment for diabetes, high-blood pressure and kidney problems should consult their doctors before plunging into electioneering in hot sun, doctors caution.

Though many candidates are relying on social media campaigns too, they prefer to personally meet the voters to make their presence felt. They also prefer public gatherings and meetings to seek votes as was done in the past. However, doctors suggest that direct exposure to sun should be avoided at all cost and campaigners should reschedule their public programmes in such a way that they are not outdoors from 11 am to 4 pm.

“It is better for the candidates to travel in air-conditioned vehicles and stay in air-conditioned rooms during the intervals of electioneering. They should keep ample fruits, juices, water and oral rehydration solution (ORS) while travelling. While campaigning outside also, they should not forget to drink at least one glass of water in a gap of 20 minutes,” says Dr T Jayakrishnan, additional professor, Government Medical College Hospital, Kozhikode.

According to the data from India Meteorological Department (IMD), the highest temperature in the state on Wednesday was recorded in Palakkad (Highest 38.8, Lowest 26.3). Punalur in Kollam district has the second highest temperature for the day (37.2 degree Celsius) and Kottayam is third (37 degree Celsius). Before the election dates were announced, Kerala Disaster Management Authority had warned that the northern districts of the state should brace for a surge in temperature levels. KSDMA stated that the temperature could go up by 8 degree Celsius from the average in Kozhikode, Palakkad, Thrissur and Malappuram districts.

According to a United Nations report released in February this year, 2018 was the fourth hottest year globally, with extreme weather conditions wreaking havoc. The UN report had cited the August 2018 floods in Kerala, the worst since 1924 in the state. The deluge forced more than a million people into relief camps. More than 450 deaths were reported.

On Monday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan himself told party workers in Alappuzha to be alert about dehydration and sunstroke risks, while campaigning in the hot sun. He also directed to avoid public events from noon to 3 pm. On February 26, the state labour department had imposed restrictions on engaging labourers for outdoor jobs. The labour commissioner had stated that those who are working on day shifts should be given a break from noon to 3 pm, in view of the steady rise in temperature in the state and chances of sunstroke. However, this was not applicable to the areas 3,000 feet above sea level and not prone to sunstroke.

“When water coolers and fans are placed on the stage for the leaders for public events, the organisers should be careful to arrange drinking water for the people at the venue also. Do not supply drinking water in plastic bottles and create another menace. They should also arrange environment-friendly ways to distribute water. For door-to-door campaigns, the workers should be provided with umbrellas and cotton caps. They can also use their emblems on these caps and umbrellas and campaign,” says Dr Jayakrishnan.

He also advises the candidates proper sleep during night and to take a nap in the afternoon, if possible, and avoid tea, coffee and snacks.

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