Heatwave in India: “For many people, the heat will be deadly”

India is currently in the throes of a heat wave. People experience dizziness, headache, shortness of breath. Hanns-Christian Gunga is Professor of Space Medicine and Extreme Environments. He explains why the heat is so deadly for people.

March was already the hottest month in India since the start of the measurements. April didn’t look much better. Temperatures have been climbing above 40 degrees Celsius for the past few days. You have been dealing with extreme environments for a long time. How dangerous is such a heat wave?
Such outdoor temperatures are far beyond what we have been evolutionarily equipped to withstand. For many people, this heat will be deadly.

Why do we manage heat so badly?
Because the body works in a very narrow temperature range. It only works well when its body temperature is between about 36 and 37.5 degrees. If the temperature increases by only one or two degrees, this already means that its performance is impaired.

Cheryl Tenny

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