The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

July 19, 2013

As the temperatures increase in northwest Oklahoma, so does the risk of heat stroke, heat exhaustion

ENID, Okla. — Summer has returned to northwest Oklahoma.

After several days of unseasonably cool weather — and a welcome amount of rain — temperatures have been climbing. Highs this weekend and through next week are expected to be in the upper-90s.

With the increased temperatures comes an increased risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, weakness, skin cold, pale and clammy, weak pulse, fainting and vomiting. If someone suffers from heat exhaustion they need to lie down in a cool place and apply cool, wet cloths to help them cool down.

Heat stroke is a potential fatal condition. Symptoms include high body temperature; hot, dry skin; rapid, strong pulse; and possible unconsciousness. Victims likely will not sweat. Emergency services should be called immediately. Victims should then be moved to a cooler environment. Try a cool bath or sponging to reduce body temperature. Use extreme caution. Remove clothing. Use fans and/or air conditioners. Do not give fluids.

A lot of times, the situation doesn’t deteriorate to the point of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Still, getting overheated is not a good thing.

National Weather Service offers some tips to beating the heat:

• Avoid the heat. Stay indoors as much as possible. Spend time in an air-conditioned space.

• Dress for the heat. Wear loose-fitting clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Lightweight, light-colored clothing reflects heat and sunlight and helps maintain normal body temperature. Protect your face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.

• Drink for the heat. Drink plenty of water and natural juices, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Even under moderately strenuous outdoor activity, the rate your body can absorb fluids is less than the rate it loses water due to perspiration.

• Do not drink in the heat. Avoid alcoholic beverages and beverages with caffeine, such as coffee, tea and cola.

• Eat for the heat. Eat small meals more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein because they increase metabolic heat. Avoid using salt tablets, unless directed to do so by a physician.

• Living in the heat. Slow down. Reduce, eliminate, or reschedule strenuous activities such as running, biking and lawn-care work when it heats up. The best times for such activities are during early morning and late evening hours.

We also urge everyone to remember: Don’t leave children or pets in vehicles in the heat. That is a tragedy waiting to happen, and unfortunately happens too much in Oklahoma. From 1998 to 2012, according to Oklahoma Department of Health, 13 children died of heat stroke in the state after being left alone in vehicles.

Play it safe. We can’t avoid the heat, but we can do some simple things to avoid problems.

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