With all the comforts right at our feet we often complain about the harsh summer heat. We often fail to look at the traffic police officers who stand the blazing sun with very little protective gear. Whether it is 42ºC or 18ºC, the traffic police look after the roads and regulate traffic which takes a toll on their health.
The passing vehicles emit pollution, the sun bakes the roads, and the temperatures soar. Yet, in these harsh conditions, they have to do their duty every day.
In the health camp conducted last year by the Hyderabad Traffic Police, it was found that 45 per cent of the Force suffered from lung problems, 10 per cent had eye problems and another 10 per cent suffered from hearing problems.
The annual health camp this year is yet to be conducted and it is predicted that the problems may have increased.
With two shifts that make the traffic policemen work in the sun, morning shift that extends from 8am to 2pm and the evening shift from 2pm to 10pm. “It is no easy feat. When I was first assigned the duty, I felt uneasy with the pollution, noise, and heat. We are now used to the conditions now,” said constable K Shankar at Jubilee Hills Check Post.
The head constable, S Kanakaiah, said that they have to stand in the heat when the electricity goes off for two hours. “Sharp at noon, with the signals not working, we have to direct and regulate traffic. Standing in the sun isn’t an easy task as we all know,” he said.
Additional commissioner of police (traffic), CV Anand, said that they are providing the force UV-protective goggles, disposable face masks, a water bottle which can keep the water cool for about three hours, reflector jacket, glucose packets, and a kit bag to store these items.
Additionally, the force gets a small summer allowance for two months. During the monsoons, they are provided raincoats and boots. “Our duty is not to provide and leave to the discretion of the Force to use these facilities. I instruct my men to use these to protect themselves. It is mandatory for them,” said Anand.
Dr Rajkumar Songa, consultant physician at Kamineni Hospitals, who spoke to the Hyderabad Traffic Police at Nizam College grounds on the issues that surround the force during summer, said, “The men are prone to lose water and salt, and can damage their eyes with the rays especially as they stand in the sun for hours. Some of them might even tan and become photo allergic to the light. They tend to become weak in these months. Usually people lose about 800ml of water in the summers, but the force loses more because they stand in the sun.”
Dr Songa advised the traffic policemen to replenish with water and isotonic.
“They should drink at least 3 litres of water in addition to a drink mixed with salt, even if they are hypertension patients or have kidney infections. They must use UV-protected eyewear as well as lose fitting headgear, sunscreen, and prickly-heat powder.