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FOR RELEASE: July 6, 2001
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Oklahomans Advised to Take Heat Precautions

With high temperatures anticipated for Oklahoma this weekend, the Oklahoma State Department of Health warns all Oklahomans not to take the heat for granted. Health officials say that prolonged exposure and physical activity in high temperatures can result in heat-related illnesses that may cause heat stroke or death.

The ability to adapt to the heat varies individually. At particular risk are the elderly, who may not be able to adjust to increases in air temperatures, or who take medicines that decrease their ability to deal with heat. Heat precautions are also advised for persons with heart, lung or kidney problems; infants and young children; and persons whose occupations require them to work outdoors.

To reduce the potential for health hazards that could result from heat exposure, the Oklahoma State Department of Health offers the following precautions:

  • Reduce your activity level and seek a cooler environment.
  • Keep air circulating through the use of air conditioners, fans or open window. Air circulation is important because it carries heat away from the body, allowing it to cool.
  • Drink plenty of fluids such as water, fruit and vegetable juices and iced tea. Avoid alcoholic beverages.
  • Avoid hot foods and heavy meals; they just add to the body's heat.
  • Wear lightweight and light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight and allow your body to maintain normal temperatures.
  • Cool the body by taking cool baths or showers. Apply wet towels, or wear damp clothing.
  • If you take medications, ask your physician if they are likely to interfere with your ability to sweat.
  • If outdoors, don't forget to use a sunscreen.

Contact a physician immediately if signs of potential heat stress appear, including: dizziness, rapid heartbeat, diarrhea, nausea, cramps, throbbing headache, dry skin (no sweating), chest pain, great weakness, mental changes, breathing problems, or vomiting.

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