ROGERS COUNTY - OTEMS Paramedics is using patrols of its territory here, including key areas of Oologah Lake to keep residents safe from Saturday’s brutal heat.
The National Weather Service has issued a Heat Advisory which is in effect from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. High temperatures in the middle to upper 90s will combine with increased relative humidity values and will result in heat indices between 105 and 110 degrees Saturday afternoon.
The increasingly hot and humid conditions will increase the potential for heat related illness for much of eastern Oklahoma and west central Arkansas during the afternoon and evening.
The heat is serious enough to cause potentially life-threatening heat strokes during outdoor activities and lesser but still serious heat-related illnesses simply by being outdoors.
Operations Director Kelly Deal said OTEMS is responding by using its paramedic ambulances and crews to patrol the district watching for those who may need advice on avoiding ill-effects from the heat.
“We will be making rounds and giving out water at our own expense,” said Deal, noting that such intense heat is coming a bit early this year, before a bottled water donation drive has been set up. “We are looking for donations.”
Deal and Paramedic Shelbie Wayman, the district’s Community Relations Coordinator and one of three on-duty supervisors on rotation each week, said even those cooling off at the lake need to take care.
“We are also touring the beach (in the Hawthorn recreation area) and both campgrounds and ramps located in the district,” they noted.
Deal said that all Oklahomans’ preparations for the heat should include keeping track of the weather and heat index; planning for how to deal with power outages; keeping track of neighbors who are elderly; identifying cool places to seek refuge if you are without air conditioning or power fails during the hottest part of the day, and ensuring that your animals’ needs for water and shade are met.
During high heat periods, Deal cautioned, never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles; stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty but avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol; eat small meals and eat more often; avoid extreme temperature changes; wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing; slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise; postpone outdoor games and activities; use a buddy system when working in excessive heat; take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors; check family, friends and neighbors who might be at risk due to living alone, lacking air conditioning or spending who are more likely to be affected by the heat, and check on your animals to make sure they are not suffering from the heat.
Three types of heat-related illnesses may result from the anticipated heat levels:
HEAT CRAMPS, muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen, are often an early sign that the body is having trouble with the heat. To deal with them, move the person to a cooler place to rest in a comfortable position while lightly stretching the affected muscle and gently massage the area while giving an electrolyte-containing fluid such as a commercial sports drink, fruit juice, milk as well as water may also be given. Do not give salt tablets.
HEAT EXHAUSTION is a more severe condition that often affects athletes, firefighters, construction and factory workers. It also affects those wearing heavy clothing in a hot, humid environment.
Symptoms include cool, moist, pale, ashen or flushed skin; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion. To provide first aid, move the person to a cooler environment with circulating air; remove or loosen as much clothing as possible and apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fanning or spraying the person with water also can help. If the person is conscious, give small amounts of a cool fluid such as a commercial sports drink or fruit juice to restore fluids and electrolytes. Milk or water may also be given. Give about 4 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes.
If the person’s condition does not improve or if he or she refuses water, has a change in consciousness, or vomits, call 9-1-1.
HEAT STROKE, a life-threatening condition that usually occurs by ignoring the signals of heat exhaustion, develops when body systems are overwhelmed by heat and begin to stop functioning. Signs include extremely high body temperature; red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing; confusion; vomiting; and seizures.
Heat stroke is life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 immediately.
Until help arrives (usually within minutes in OTEMS’s service area of more than 200 square miles), rapidly cool the body by immersing the person up to the neck in cold water, if possible OR douse or spray the person with cold water; sponge the person with ice water-doused towels over the entire body, frequently rotating the cold, wet towels; and cover the person with bags of ice. If you can’t measure and monitor the person’s temperature, apply rapid cooling methods for 20 minutes or until the person’s condition improves.
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