Mrs. Meera Chatterjee got up with a start and sat up straight on her bed.
She has rarely seen such a nightmare in her life.
It was an April morning. And when Mrs. Chatterjee got up it was already 6 am.
There is a power outage and the purr of the air conditioner is missing.
It was already somewhat hot as the first rays of the sun struck the earth.
Mrs Chatterjee lives comfortably with her husband Deepak in a plush residential complex at Garia near EM Bypass. They are senior citizens and relish the convenience of living in a gated community.
Mrs. Chatterjee Saw a Nightmare
It was an afternoon and Mrs. Chatterjee was riding in a boat along with her husband. She was enjoying the waves, and the cool breeze gently caressing her hair.
She remembered her younger days when having a launch ride over the Ganges used to excite and comfort her. A launch ride, and biting into some bhelpuri and ice cream used to make her day.
But this was not the Ganges!
Their boat crossed the statue of Lenin on the right side and was going toward the Oberoi Grand.
The entire Esplanade area is underwater! She noticed other boats too. Someone from a boat actually waved at her.
Their boat took a turn on the right and went towards the Raj Bhavan and the Maidan. Raj Bhavan is surrounded with stones and not much water but the Maidan area is completely submerged.
At this moment their boat rocked violently as a large wave hit it. It threw her off balance and awakened her.
She is wide awake now, some sweat wetting her eyebrows. She reached out for the bottle of water on her bedside table.
Did She Watch a Scene from the Future?
According to Climate Centralâ€™s latest maps, based on IPCCâ€™s 2021 report, Kolkata is expected to be underwater by 2030, unless drastic changes to combat climate change are taken.
This obviously means that the nightmare Mrs. Chatterjee witnessed can be true.
Did she just see a piece of reality from the future?
A distinct possibility if global warming goes on unchecked.
Mr. Chatterjee had a shiver.
The Weather is Getting Warmer
2021 was one of the top seven warmest years on record. This trend is going to continue as a proactive action to control greenhouse gases isnâ€™t sufficient.
Even in March in Kolkata, the scorching summer heat is felt as the heatwave-like condition persists even in April.
The city is reeling under very hot conditions while there is no sign of any rains and thundershowers, kalboishakhi, this year.
This is Indiaâ€™s hottest March in 122 years.
How can you effectively cope with such a devastating heatwave?
Letâ€™s discuss some of the ways.
Stick Tinted Films on Window Panes
Tinted sun protection films prevent the heat from entering the room while allowing the sunlight to pass through. Because of this, the room always stays cooler than outside. Moreover, window films have other benefits such as eye comfort, UV protection, aesthetics, and increased safety, privacy, and energy savings.
The lower room temperature also ensures that the air conditioner doesnâ€™t have to work so hard.
Embrace Cotton Clothes
Wearing tight fitted and dark coloured clothes can make you more sweaty. If you intend to stay cool and avoid excessive sweating, opt for loose, light-coloured cotton clothes. Your sweat does not evaporate when you wear thick clothes. Besides, dark colours absorb more wavelengths of light, making you feel hotter.
Also, donâ€™t forget to wear those fashionable shades while in the sun.
Change Your Diet and Drinks
Avoid those heavy, spicy or protein-rich diets which are difficult to digest and create a lot of metabolic heat. Itâ€™s preferable to have light plant-based meals and a lot of fruits and juices. And always remember to add some traditional sour dishes and homemade yoghurt to smoothen digestion.
Another important tip is to avoid tea and coffee and adopt those mint-laden cold water as much as possible. Staying hydrated, especially when you must go out in the sun, is absolutely essential. Dehydration can cause serious weakness, fatigue, and other illnesses in extreme circumstances. Apply a cool compress to bring down body temperature if this happens.
There is no better joy than to sit down on your balcony with a cold fruity smoothie in hand and enjoy the occasional breeze.
No Outdoor Workout in the Heat
Any outdoor activity while the sun is up and the air is hot must be avoided. Even if you go for a walk at 8 am, change the timing closer to 6 am to avoid sunlight as much as possible. Similarly, push any outdoor workout timing to a much later time in the afternoon.
There is always a chance of heat cramps and heat strokes if you exercise in hot conditions. Splash some water on yourself to cool down fast after the exercise.
If you’re living in a gated community with amenities like a swimming pool and an indoor gym, use them as much as possible. For example, use the gym treadmill rather than running outdoors.
Keep Decorative Plants
Plants and trees create a feeling of a cool atmosphere around us. Trees on the southern sides of a house provide shade and keep it cool.
If there are enough trees in the central green of a residential complex, the heat is reflected and keeps those blocks of the concrete cooler. In Kolkata, nature theme-based residences are coming up fast.
You can always sit under such trees if there are chairs/benches.
Take the effort to develop a balcony garden and keep some indoor plants too.
Use Energy Saving Equipment
We should always take the above steps to beat the heat but if we do not do our bit to reduce our carbon footprint, the problem of hotter summers every year will continue. Therefore, focus on using energy-saving electrical equipment. This means using appliances with higher star ratings as they consume less power.
Stress on using solar power for the common facilities in your community and reuse the rainwater for cleaning and gardening.
And of course, adopt LED lamps and ditch those traditional ones now.
Let us remember that our actions affect the environment in many ways than we can imagine and we must take action now to avoid environmental disasters.
The Long & Short of It
Dealing with summer heat can get quite tricky. We hope the tips mentioned above will help you minimise its impact and avoid heat stress. Remember, keeping yourself hydrated, wearing light, comfortable clothes, and using smart technology are the key factors to staying cool during the summers.