Beat the heat
NASA's global annual temperature analysis shows that most of the Earth's warming has occurred in the last 35 years, since record keeping began in 1880. 2014, 2015, 2016 were record breaking years, each turning out to be hotter than ever.
In the city of Ahmedabad, located in the hot and dry north-western region of India, 2010 was one such blazing year. The temperature soared beyond 46 degrees centigrade, and caught the people unaware. Hospitals were flooded with patients.
The Ahmedabad heat wave became a testing ground for a group of scientists from India and the United States. They got down to studying the impact of extreme temperatures on the gross mortality in Ahmedabad. Their results were eye opening- extreme heat had caused an excess of 1344 deaths just in the month of May.
In 2010, a coalition led by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, IIPH-Gandhinagar, and the NRDC started developing a Heat Action Plan for Ahmedabad. This was brought into action in 2013.
The plan included several key components- an extended 7-day forecast during the summer months, a colour-coded warning system for citizens, and a massive public awareness campaign led by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.
After the Heat Action Plan was implemented rigorously on ground, fewer deaths were reported in Ahmedabad during the summers of 2013 and 2014.
In 2015, it influenced India's national weather service, the IMD, to provide a 5-day city-specific summer forecast to 100 cities in India.
India's national disaster management authority, the NDMA advised states across India to study the Ahmedabad Heat Action Plan.
The film 'Beat the Heat' captures this story with a strong message that heat is a predictable and preventable disaster. Thousands of lives can be saved if city governments, public health community and disaster authorities prepare for this challenge. No one should die of heat.