Keeping Kids Safe In The Extreme Heat

Tuesday, July 19th 2011, 4:40 pm
By: News On 6

Craig Day, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Tuesday is our 17th day of triple digit temperatures. We've only had six days since June 27th that we didn't reach 100 degrees.

Since its first heat alert before the Summer even started, EMSA has responded to 192 heat related calls and has issued a total of 14 heat alerts.

Conditions are brutal and children and the elderly are the most susceptible.

Scott and Jamie Clay brought their two little ones to riverparks, but with the stifling weather, they have to limit their fun in the sun.

"We get him inside every so often once he gets a little overheated," Scott said.

Medical experts want parents like the Clays to be cautious during our record setting heat wave, because children are especially vulnerable to extreme heat.

"They get in trouble as far as getting hot quicker than an adult would," said Dr David Gearhart of the OSU Medical Center

Dr. Gearhart says first, kids absorb more heat because they have a greater skin surface area to body mass ratio than adults. Second, they produce more of their own body heat during physical activity.

They don't sweat as much as grownups. And children aren't as likely to drink enough water when they're thirsty. That's something the Clays monitor closely.

"We recommend thinking for them obviously, they can't tell you when they're too hot and don't have enough water in them so," Scott said.

"He doesn't do it on his own, so we're constantly giving him his cup of water," Jamie said.

Doctors say keeping cool and hydrated is the key. Which is good advice for all of us right now. And children aren't the only ones susceptible to heat related illnesses. So are the elderly."

"They may have thyroid problems, may have heart disease, underlying diabetes, and then some of the medications the elderly take make them not have the ability to respond the way other normal adults would," Dr. Gearhart said.

Experts say there are permanent health consequences to not paying attention to warnings, so everyone should be cautious as we face more hot days with little relief in sight.

One good thing is that OSU Medical Center is seeing fewer people with heat related illnesses this week compared to a week ago, so it appears more people are taking the heat seriously and are taking necessary precautions.