Oppressive Heat Hard On Oklahomans, Especially Disabled

Monday, August 9th 2010, 3:10 pm
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- After a short reprieve, the heat has hit Green Country hard once again.

We're under an excessive heat warning again, and it looks like we're in for one of the hottest stretches we've seen yet this summer.

Get a complete list of warnings and advisories

The heat kills more than 1,000 people nationwide each year. Our oppressive 100-degree days are especially tough on the disabled, as The News On 6 learned firsthand from a Tulsa man.

With the scorching summer sun beating down, 68-year-old Joel Broadnax sits tight in his North Tulsa home, trying to keep cool.

"It's oppressive, and with my breathing problems, I can hardly go out the door," said Broadnax.

His emphysema makes it hard to breathe on an ordinary day. The hotter it gets, the longer the heat wave lasts, the more dangerous it becomes.

"Try to stay as cool as I possibly can," said Broadnax.

To make matters worse, when the summer started, Broadnax's aging air conditioning unit died. With a fixed income of social security and disability, he squeaked out enough money to get a window unit. But it's small, and even accompanied by a fan, it's not enough to cool the house.

"That's all I got in this whole house and that's not very good. I've been concentrating my life right up in here," Broadnax said.

He sleeps in the living room on the couch, eats his meals there and stays as close to the little A/C unit as he can.

"Watch TV, read my Bible and just be still," said Broadnax.

Oklahoma's high temperatures are not that far out of line for this time of year. But what is unusual is the combination of those high temps with a high dew point. That's pushing the heat index past 110.

Read the weather discussion.

"It's too much for me," said Broadnax.

There's no way of knowing how many Broadnax's there are in and around the Tulsa area, but there are likely many. 

Broadnax is thankful for good neighbors who will check on him as we face a forecast of several straight days of 100 plus degree weather. The elderly and disabled are more susceptible to the heat because as we age, we gradually lose the ability to perspire and regulate our body temperature.

The following cooling stations are open for business until further notice:

The Salvation Army Center of Hope
102 N. Denver Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74103

Tulsa County Social Services Cooling Station
2401 Charles Page Blvd.
8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Dennis R. Neill Equality Center
621 East 4th Street
3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday

OpenTable United Church Of Christ
202 S Cedar
1 - 6 p.m.