Nearly two weeks into March, searing heat has thrown normal life out of gear in Punalur, one of the hottest places in the State. While the summer is yet to peak, residents say the weather has become extremely unbearable forcing them to stay indoors.
Streets remain more or less deserted for long hours as heat-related incidents are on the rise. IMD had sounded an alert, forecasting an increase of 2 to 3 degree Celsius in maximum temperature in different districts including Kollam on Saturday and Sunday.
As Punalur saw mercury level breaching the 38.7°C mark, the residents are bracing for a blazing summer.
After 5 p.m.
“We step outside only when it’s necessary and run errands after 5 pm. Fans are whirling all time and even low income families are are left with no option but to buy air coolers and conditioners.
Stepping outside is a risk as people are getting burns and blisters,” says Krishnakumar, a resident.While a section can avoid sun exposure, vendors, auto drivers and delivery persons are left to bear the brunt. Since very few people venture out in the sweltering heat, street vendors hardly have any customers and those who sell refreshments are also struggling to survive.
Main business “Our main business is during the day time and we are trying hard to recover from the loss due to the pandemic. At present all the people prefer air-conditioned places and my business has dropped by over 75%. Apart from random motorists there are no customers even in eateries,” says Babu, who sells tender coconut.
One among many street vendors selling seasonal fruits and drinks along the roadside, he adds that this time the weather is too difficult to handle.According to Thomas, an auto driver, many people are developing health issues in the rising temperature.
“I have recently recovered from COVID-19 and still suffer from extreme fatigue and shortness of breath. From March second week the number of passengers is very low. ,” he says.
Meanwhile, health officials have advised migrant labourers, farmers, persons engaged in hard labour in open spaces, headload workers and two-wheeler riders to stay extra cautious to avoid sunburn and dehydration.
“We are seeing a rising number of cases with heat rash and fatigue from Punalur and nearby areas. We are expecting more heat-related incidents in the coming days and currently all arrangements are in place to tackle the situation,” says an official.