Sizzling Summer Heat Poses Serious Risk For Heat-Related Injuries

Monday, July 19th 2010, 5:18 pm
By: News On 6

By Tara Vreeland, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Most of the nation is experiencing a heat wave and Oklahoma is in the dead center.

The National Weather Service extended the excessive heat warning for all of Green Country through Tuesday evening.

The area hit triple digits for the first time over the weekend. And when the mercury soars, so too do the number of heat-related illnesses.

No doubt about it. It's hot.

"Oh yeah. Oh yeah it's hot," said Delynn Fairless. "It's steamy out here."

Despite the heat, Tulsa's River Parks was still sizzling with activity. Runners, bikers and walkers almost dare the scorching summer sun for more.

"There's plenty of water on Riverside so you actually can refresh yourself and take care," John Points, a runner, said.

"Multiple, multiple things," Dylan Angleton said. "Head band. Shirt off."

"Well I wear this silly bandana because I don't have very much hair and it holds some moisture on my skull and keeps it cool," Points said. "Take in a lot of water and just listen to your body, take it easy."

Because if you don't, you can suffer serious heat-related injuries.

7/19/2010 Related Story: EMSA: Elderly Couple Hospitalized After AC Goes Out

"Like heat stroke," Dr. Gavin Gardner, OSU Medical Center, said. "Neurological defecits. You can get kidney damage."

Overheating starts with cramps.

"I was cramping up yesterday," Jamie Jennings said. "Just not enough fluids and sweating so much that muscles just start cramping up after a while. I've been stretching all morning. Just so I could play this round."

Followed by heat exhaustion.

"Once you've elevated your body temperature to that level you are already in trouble," Dr. Gardner said.

Signs of exhaustion are heavy sweating and dizziness. The skin may appear pale and cool and moist to the touch.

"Whenever I feel a little dehydration coming on I get some water in me," Fairless said. "I try to prevent that feeling and try and stay filled up with water."

And the most dangerous of heat related illnesses is heat stroke. Heat stroke victims suffer from hallucinations, flushed skin, rapid breathing, nausea, and fatigue. At this stage, the body cannot regulate it's temperature on its own and requires immediate medical help.

EMSA responded to seven heat related calls over the weekend. And two more calls as of Monday afternoon.

The best way to avoid cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke is easy and it cannot be stressed enough. Try and stay out of the sun and in the shade, take plenty of breaks and drink plenty of water, even if you don't feel thirsty.