When five minutes without a fan makes you sweat, you know that summer has truly arrived. For most people, this means staying indoors with the air-conditioners on full blast.
But for the traffic policeman, standing under the relentless sun for a shift of four hours is all in a day’s work.
According to sub-inspector, Royapettah traffic station, G. Mahalingam, through the day, whenever there is a lull in traffic, he takes a small break to drink tender coconut water every hour. Many other traffic officers on the field also take similar breaks.
For Iyappan, a coconut-seller on R.K. Salai, the traffic policemen are among his main clientele. “For the past 10 years I have been relocating my cart near busy intersections, so that the traffic constables can take a break and drink some coconut water. While many of them pay for the coconut water, I don’t mind even if they cannot pay since it is very sad to see how hard they work,” he said.
Even though the police personnel spend only around four hours, at a time, in the sun, doctors say that anyone who is planning to stay out for long hours during the summer must take adequate precautions.
One of the biggest problems with going out during the day in summer is the risk of dehydration and sunstroke. Traffic policemen, especially, stand the risk of suffering from respiratory problems, since more dust flies around during summer. To prevent this, they should ensure that they wear proper gear like hats and sunglasses, stay adequately hydrated and also ensure that they wear a mask when they are controlling the traffic,” general physician R. Rajarathinam said.
According to the commissioner of police (traffic) Karuna Sagar, there are around 2, 600 personnel in the traffic team. “While we ensure they spend only four hours at a time in the sun and provide them with juice, buttermilk and a ‘dharmapuri’ hat to help deal with the sun, they still have a tough time this season,” he said, adding that at busy junctions like the Nandanam signal, Anna Arch and Spencers signal, there are three or four constables posted at a time, who are not likely to get much shade during their shifts.