In Edmond, recent rains have subdued daytime heating, but the summer is far from over, and officials want to remind Oklahomans to continue to be safety-minded.
According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac the first day of summer — the summer solstice — was June 21; the first day of fall — the fall equinox — is Sept. 22. For those of you who long for cold weather, the start of the winter season — the winter solstice — falls on Dec. 21 this year. An equinox occurs when the sun shines down directly over a planet’s equator.
In Oklahoma, the average last 100 degree temperature is on Aug. 20 and the average last 90 degree temperature is Sept. 27, according to the National Weather Service.
Furthermore, the hottest temperature on record for Oklahoma — 113 degrees — was recorded twice, both times in August: Aug. 11, 1936 and Aug. 3, 2012. Out of the top 10 all-time high temperatures in the state all but two were in August.
ON THE BODY
Under conditions of high temperature (above 90 degrees) and high relative humidity, the body is doing everything it can to maintain 98.6 degrees inside, according to the National Weather Service. The heart pumps a torrent of blood through dilated circulatory vessels.
Sweat glands pour liquid including essential dissolved chemicals like sodium and chloride onto the surface of the skin.
The body’s blood is circulated closer to the skin’s surface, and excess heat drains off into the cooler air. At the same time, water diffuses through the skin as perspiration; the skin handles about 90 percent of the body’s heat dissipating function.
Sweating by itself does nothing to cool the body, unless the water is removed by evaporation, and high relative humidity limits evaporation.
Heat disorders generally involve a reduction or collapse of the body’s ability to shed heat by circulatory changes and sweating or a chemical (salt) imbalance caused by too much sweating.
When heat gain exceeds the level the body can remove, or when the body cannot compensate for fluids and salt lost through perspiration, the temperature of the body’s inner core begins to rise and heat-related illness may develop.
Major Brian Davis, the Edmond Fire Department’s emergency medical services director, said the classic heat-related illnesses are heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which are progressively more severe.
Heat cramps, muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen, are often an early sign the body is having trouble with heat, according to the American Red Cross. Getting the victim to a cooler area, massaging the affected location and drinking water or an electrolyte-containing fluid are the best responses, Davis said.
Heat exhaustion is characterized by cool, moist, pale, ashen or flushed skin, a headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness and exhaustion. Getting the victim to a cooler area with circulating air, applying cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin, fanning or spraying the person with water and giving them small amounts of water or an electrolyte-containing fluid are the best responses, Davis said. If the symptoms do not improve, call 911.
Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition, Davis said.
Heat strokes are caused when the body is overwhelmed by heat and functions begin to stop, according to the American Red Cross. Symptoms include extremely high body temperature, dry or moist red skin, changes in consciousness, a rapid weak pulse, rapid shallow breathing, confusion, vomiting and seizures.
The best response for heat stroke is to call 911 immediately, then cool the body by immersing the person up to the neck in cold water if possible or douse or spray cold water on the victim. Sponge the victim with ice water over the body and cover the victim with bags of ice.
Individuals who have had a heat-related illness in the past are more susceptible to them in the future, Davis said. Products with caffeine and some medications can reduce efforts to properly hydrate, he said.
Officials also urge citizens to check on elderly individuals living alone and to be extra mindful about not leaving children and pets in cars exposed to the heat. The effects can be more severe on children because their bodies warm at a faster rate than adults.
In 60 minutes, if the temperature is 80 degrees outside a vehicle with closed windows, the summer sun can heat the vehicle interior to 123 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
Edmond’s high Tuesday will be near 92, followed by highs in the mid-90s through Saturday evening, according to the National Weather Service.
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