High Temps Prompt Activation Of Tulsa Heat Emergency Plan

Monday, June 22nd 2009, 7:40 am
By: News On 6


TULSA, OK -- As the Tulsa area continues to experience high temperatures, the Tulsa Heat Coalition has moved into Phase 1 of its Heat Emergency Action Plan.

In a news release Monday afternoon, the Coalition is advising area residents to take precautions to protect their health against heat-related illnesses that may cause heat stroke or death.

The following precautions are advised:

  • Drink more fluids, regardless of your activity level. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink. (Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot.)
  • Don't drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar; these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
  • Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, visit a library, indoor shopping mall, community center or other such venue. Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.
  • Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
  • Although any one at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on infants and young children, people aged 65 or older, people who have a mental illness, and those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure.

If you must be out in the heat, take the following precautions:

  • Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
  • Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat, however, if you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage.
  • Try to rest often in shady areas.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say "broad spectrum" or "UVA/UVB protection" on their labels). 

Examples of heat-related illnesses include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps. Below are the warning signs of each illness and what action should be taken if a person is experiencing symptoms of these illnesses.

Warning Signs of Heat Stroke

  • Hot, red, dry skin
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Body temperature as high as 105 degrees
  • Headache, dizziness, nauseous, confused

If a person is demonstrating signs of heat stroke you should:

  • Call 9-1-1. Heat stroke can kill.
  • Move victim to a cooler place
  • Quickly cool victim. Put in a cool bath or wrap in cool wet sheet or towels
  • Keep victim lying down
  • Give small amounts of water if victim is fully awake and not vomiting

Warning signs of Heat Exhaustion

  • Cool, moist or pale skin
  • Heavy sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness and exhaustion
  • Body temperatures may be normal or may be rising

If a person is demonstrating signs of heat exhaustion you should:

  • Move victim to a cooler place
  • Remove or loosen tight clothing
  • Apply cool, wet cloths
  • If conscious, give small amounts of cool water every 15 minutes
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol, or lots of sugar. They can make it worse.

Warning signs of Heat Cramps

  • Tightening of the muscles in the legs or other parts of the body

If a person is demonstrating signs of heat cramps you should:

  • Move victim to a cooler place
  • Lightly stretch the affected muscle
  • Give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes

The Tulsa Heat Coalition, an alliance of representatives from key public health, safety and community organizations, has devised a heat emergency plan to increase awareness of heat dangers and reduce heat-related injuries.

When paramedics respond to five or more patients suffering from suspected heat-related illness in a 24-hour period, an EMSA Heat Alert will be issued if the weather pattern is expected to continue. Additionally, National Weather Service advisories are called when the daytime heat index soars to/over 105 degrees and nighttime ambient temperatures of 75 degrees or more persist for two days or longer.

When issuing a heat alert or advisory, EMSA or NWS will provide local media outlets with health and safety information relating to hot weather, and the Tulsa Area Emergency Management Authority (TAEMA) will notify area public safety agencies of the increased danger.

If a heat alert or advisory extends into a third consecutive day, the Tulsa Human Response Coalition's (THRC) cool station subcommittee reviews its operations plan and a list of facilities that could be utilized as cool stations.

If Tulsa experiences a fifth consecutive day of dangerous heat, cool stations will open and heat coalition members will hold a joint news conference to announce openings to the public and address heat hazards and the short-term outlook.

For the latest weather information, check out NewsOn6.com's WEATHER PAGE.