Deadly Heat Is Taking Its Toll On Oklahomans

Tuesday, August 2nd 2011, 6:54 pm
By: News On 6

Craig Day, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- The number of confirmed heat-related deaths in Oklahoma is now 12, with autopsies pending in 10 other cases.

08/02/2011 Related Story: Heat Blamed For Two More Tulsa Area Deaths

It's dangerous enough above 100 degrees, but now with temperatures above 110, it's even more life threatening. And this is our 30th day with triple digit temperatures.

Matt Cooksey is waiting in the heat for a bus that will take him to work. When it's 100 degrees it's tough enough. Now, above 110, the heat is threatening records and threatening even more lives.

"It's life risking, having to walk down the road or chase after a bus," Cooksey said.

Cooksey lives at the Tulsa County Emergency Shelter, which is one of Tulsa's three cooling stations.

"Real thankful because it gives a chance for people who are less fortunate or homeless are able to cool off," he said.

As the temperature goes up, Dr. John Jennings says anxiety does too.

"When you have individuals that don't have air conditioning, and don't partake of enough fluids, then the body can't cool itself," Dr. Jennings said.

While some people think there's really no difference between 107 and 113, Doctor Jennings says don't be mistaken. The hotter it gets the possibility of getting overheated increases.

"When the core body temperature gets to 106 degrees it causes catastrophic problems," he says.

EMSA has now issued 21 heat alerts.

"It is Oklahoma. It is what it is, it's always hot, but I don't remember it being this hot, and taking such a toll," said EMSA Spokesperson Chris Stevens.

Stevens says they've treated nearly 260 patients so far, and it can't be stressed enough to hydrate.

"Most people are saying they haven't had much water or no water during the day when we're actually taking them to the hospital and treating them in the back of the ambulance," he said.

Matt Cooksey follows that advice. It's brutally hot at the bus stop. But he's optimistic his situation will turn around... and hopes the weather will too.

Another interesting note about our health and our hot weather. Doctors are reporting an increase in the number of people developing kidney stones because of dehydration.