As Karachi prepares for a heatwave, hopefully far less severe and devastating than the June 2015 heatwave that claimed 1300 lives, two victims have already succumbed to the intense heat. This makes it clear that global warming and climate change is an issue of utmost importance for Pakistan, which is highly vulnerable to climatic disasters due to lack of awareness and preparedness.

According to the meteorological department, Karachi is likely to witness an increase in the intensity in temperature from 38°C to 40°C, and is predicted to continue till Sunday. The temperatures soared to 49°C last year and the government was ill-equipped to deal with the scope of the disaster.

The Sindh government has shown some initiative this year by setting up relief centres and equipping some facilities, but the most important aspect remains the effective dissemination of the warnings. The Met department has played a proactive role by issuing warnings before the heatwave hit the metropolis, it is now up to the media as well as the government to ensure that this information is seen by the citizens so necessary precautions can be taken to avoid loss of life. All citizens must be aware of their nearest emergency centres, which should be well-equipped and designated under relevant authorities so that hospitals on the frontline, like Jinnah Hospital, are not overburdened during a crisis.

Citizens should avoid leaving their homes in peak hours of the day and take frequent baths to keep cool if they have water. The provincial government must ensure that provision of water remains uninterrupted especially during the days of the warning as the demand increases greatly and is an integral factor in mitigating the crisis. Citizens should be made aware of the signs to look out for so that they may seek medical attention immediately before it becomes too late. Should the city officials fail to do their job, strict action should ensue and accountability must prevail.