July 17, 2020 – EMSA takes heat safety seriously. Each summer in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa, EMSA medics respond to more than 250 suspected heat-related illness calls. Those calls can range from someone feeling winded and achy because of hot temperatures to someone losing consciousness after prolonged exposure to extreme heat.

In both cities, EMSA aims to inform citizens about potential heat dangers by issuing EMSA Medical Heat Alerts. EMSA issues a Medical Heat Alert when medics in either the Eastern Division (Tulsa Area) or Western Division (Oklahoma City Area) respond to five or more suspected heat-related illness calls in a 24-hour period. The Medical Heat Alert expires when EMSA responds to fewer than 5 suspected heat-related calls in a single day.

Here are some ways Oklahomans can stay ahead of the hot temperatures this summer:

  • Do not stay in or leave anyone in closed, parked cars during hot weather, especially children or pets.
  • Do not exercise vigorously during the hottest times of the day.  Instead, run, jog, or exercise in the cooler part of the day. If the outside temperature is 82ºF or above and the humidity is high, you should consider doing an abbreviated exercise routine.
  • Wear light, loose-fitting clothing made from materials, such as cotton, so sweat can evaporate. Don’t forget to put on a wide-brimmed hat with vents for protection from the sun.
  • Drink lots of liquids to replace the fluids you lose from sweating. Do not wait until you feel like you need a drink. Thirst is not a reliable sign that your body needs fluids. When you exercise, you should take small sips of liquid rather than large drinks. Water is the best drink to replace lost fluids. Water with salt added can be used if you sweat a lot.  (Use ½ teaspoon salt in 1 quart of water.).
  • If you feel very hot, try to cool off.  Open a window, use a fan, or turn on an air conditioner.
  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages or beverages with caffeine because they speed up fluid loss.
  • Do not bundle a baby in blankets or heavy clothing.  Infants don’t tolerate heat well because their sweat glands are not well developed.
  • Some people perspire more than others do.  Those who do should drink as much fluid as they can during hot, humid days.
  • To protect yourself when temperatures are extremely high, it is important to remember to use common sense.

Finally, it is important to use the buddy system if working outdoors so that someone knows to check in to make sure you are alright in the heat. Also, be sure to keep a cell phone on you at all times when outdoors, including walking, running daily errands, yard work or sports and physical activity.