Although it’s not officially summer yet in Oklahoma, it sure feels that way. As the heat crept up to near 100 degrees this week, people started breaking out the sunscreen and summer clothes and cranked up the air conditioning.
Heat can be lethal in some cases. In 2008, one of Oklahoma’s hottest summers, 21 senior citizens died due to heat-related incidents. Others at risk include infants and those with chronic health conditions.
According to the National Weather Service, key actions to cope with heat include drinking plenty of water, slowing down, cooling off in the shade or air conditioning if working outside and choosing morning or evening if possible to work or play outside.
Heat illnesses can kill. The dangers that Oklahoma’s brutal heat can cause include: (via USAToday)
- Heat cramps: Exercising in hot weather can lead to muscle cramps, especially in the legs, because of brief imbalances in body salts. Cramps become less frequent as a person becomes used to the heat.
- Heat syncope or fainting: Anyone not used to exercising in the heat can experience a quick drop in blood pressure that can lead to fainting. As with heat cramps, the cure is to take it easy.
- Heat exhaustion: Losing fluid and salt through perspiration or replacing them in an imbalanced way can lead to dizziness and weakness. Body temperature might rise, but not above 102 degrees. In some cases victims, especially the elderly, should be hospitalized. The best defense is to take it easy and drink plenty of water. Don’t take salt tablets without consulting a physician.
- Heatstroke:In some cases extreme heat can upset the body’s thermostat, causing body temperature to rise to 105 degrees or higher. Symptoms are lethargy, confusion and unconsciousness. Even a suspicion that someone might be suffering from heatstroke requires immediate medical aid. Heatstroke can kill.
The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma Area Command has measures in place to help those who are living on the streets or who do not have access to air conditioning. When the temperature gets 100 degrees or more, our Red Shield Kitchen, located at 330 SW 4th, is open for those needing cool air or cool water. Senior Citizens can visit any one of our five centers to escape the heat.
Fans go quickly, and sadly, there are never enough to go around. OG&E donates fans every year to The Salvation Army and other agencies, but within a day, 200 box fans can be gone.
Want to help out? Please donate NEW box fans to our social services office at 501 S. Harvey or send a donation to The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma Area Command, ATTN: Fans, P.O. Box 2095, Oklahoma City, OK 73101.
A donation of $30 can provide a fan to two families who may suffer during our summer.
Everyone – Stay cool out there!!!