EMSA Outlines Tulsa Heat Emergency Plan

Tuesday, June 16th 2009, 11:41 am
By: News On 6


TULSA, OK -- With high temps and high humidity in the forecast this week, EMSA is raising awareness of heat-related illness.

EMSA reports it has treated two patients in the Tulsa area so far this week, but with the forecast calling for highs near 98, EMSA is expressing concern.

EMSA's Tina Wells says symptoms of heat exhaustion, a mild form of heat-related illness, include muscle cramps, heavy perspiration, headache, nausea or vomiting, fainting and fatigue.

Persons exhibiting such symptoms should move to a cool place, sip small amounts of cool water and contact their doctor for advice.

Heat stroke is a potentially deadly form of heat-related illness; its victims often have skin that's red and hot or dry to the touch, a throbbing headache, an elevated body temperature, and unconsciousness.

Wells says 911 should be called immediately if heat stroke is suspected.

Read "Extreme Heat And You."

To avoid heat-related illnesses, EMSA urges individuals to take the following precautions when the temperature rises:

  • Reduce outdoor activity, particularly during the late morning and afternoon hours.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption, and up your water intake.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Spend as much time as possible in an air-conditioned environment; visit a library, indoor shopping mall, community center or other such venue if you don't have air-conditioning at home.
  • Play close attention to those at increased risk for heat-related illness, including young children (under age 4), senior citizens, people with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease or high blood pressure, and outdoor laborers.
  • Never, ever leave a child unattended in a vehicle.

Wells says last year, EMSA provided care to more than 100 individuals in the Tulsa area suffering from heat-related illness. Overexposure to heat was a factor in at least two deaths area deaths.

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.

Wells says when EMSA 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.

In a news release, Wells says 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.

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

Tips For Avoiding Heat-Related Illiness