Heat-Related Illnesses In Oklahoma Rise With Temperature

Sunday, June 24th 2012, 6:38 pm
By: Tess Maune

Since summer's official arrival it seems like the temperature gauge just keeps rising and that is putting all Oklahomans at risk of falling victim to a heat-related illness.

But there are a few simple steps to take to stay safe in the sun.

Mary Whitney is giving the extreme heat a warm welcome. Whitney is an avid gardener and her sunflowers thrive when the mercury rises. 

"They love this heat, yes.  They're quite happy. You can see they're reaching way up and can even watch them throughout the day, they'll begin facing the east sun and follow the sun, and face the west sun by the end of the day," Whitney said.

While the heat brings sunflowers to life each summer, it also brings some serious health risks.

"You can get simple heat cramps, to heat exhaustion, to the most severe form heat illness, which is heat stroke," said owner of My Doctor Urgent Care, Dr. Stan Stacy.

Stacy says as soon as summer heats up, he starts seeing patients come in with signs of trouble.

"Which would be dizziness. Sometimes you'll stop sweating and you'll feel overheated and faint," said Stacy. "[They are] really weak, a lot of times they're having pretty significant cramps. Really painful muscle cramps"

At the point, Stacy says the best thing you can do is to stop what you're doing and find a place to cool down. And if you have to be outside, stick with early mornings or evenings, drink plenty of water and wear light-colored loose-fitting clothes.

"I've got some sun damage from having gardened for so many years," said Whitney.

And don't forget to apply sunscreen.           

Children and the elderly are the most vulnerable to the heat during the summer months.