TRYING to keep cool in Oklahoma's heat

Saturday, July 7th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The heat is on in Oklahoma. We're well into the month of July and that means most people are talking about the sweltering heat. Most of us know what we need to do to stay cool, but KOTV's Heather Brooker looks at something you might not have thought of.

Well, there's definitely no avoiding Oklahoma’s summer heat wave. Before you head back into that air-conditioned office building on Monday morning, you should know what you're facing when you leave. Kennth Miller and his wife have been playing shuffleboard for a few years now. And not only do they knock the competition out of their way. They're learning to beat the summer heat too. "We drink alot of fluids and we don't really get out into the sun." "I know some of these people they get out here and they get pretty hot."

Doctors say some people will feel lightheaded and dizzy, but do you really know what's happening to your body when you go from the air conditioning indoors to the scorching summer sun? KOTV decided to find out. Dr. John Jennings with the Omni Medical Group says "When it's hot outside, when you first hit it, it's a reaction. The blood vessels are clamping down they're preserving the heat that it has inside. Initially, until it equilibrates then the blood vessels dilate." This can cause a slight initial drop in blood pressure. After sitting inside the air-conditioned office for an interview, Brooker took her blood pressure. Then as she stepped outside, it was taken again. Keeping in mind, She was only inside about 30 minutes. During our experiment Brooker's blood pressure only dropped about 14 points, which is about average for someone without any pre-existing medical conditions. But for those with heart problems, small children, and the elderly that first ray of sunshine can be devastating.

Dr. Jennings, "When there's not enough blood circulating to the brain, one can get dizzy, one can get lightheaded." And the best way to combat the harmful effects of the sun? You guessed it, drink more fluids. Dr. Jennings, "When one thinks of feeling dizzy, feeling week, that is usually because we have become somewhat dehydrated." And we can't emphasize that enough-doctors say you need to stay hydrated in order to endure the summer heat.

Dr. Jennings also says-the initial effects of the sun are bothersome, but it's nothing compared to prolonged exposure to heat. "That's when the heart really starts working over time to get more blood to all parts of the body and keep it cool." This sounds bad- but he says the best thing you can do is sweat, it cools you down.