Red Cross Urges Caution During Heat This Summer

Oklahoma City, July 7, 2014 – Summer heat is here in Oklahoma bringing with it potential health hazards. The American Red Cross of Central and Western Oklahoma has steps people can follow as well as locations for our neighbors to beat the heat.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in recent years, excessive heat has caused more deaths than all other weather events, including tornadoes, floods and hurricanes.

Everyone is at risk when temperatures rise above 90 degrees; and the elderly and the very young are most susceptible to heat and heat-related illnesses. Heat-related illnesses can cause serious injury and even death if unattended. Signs of heat-related illnesses include nausea, dizziness, flushed or pale skin, heavy sweating and headaches. Persons with heat-related illness should be moved to a cool place, given cool water to drink and ice packs or cool wet cloths should be applied to the skin. If a victim refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number immediately.

“The Red Cross wants to make sure our neighbors are educated on heat related illnesses,” said Janienne Bella, regional CEO. “That’s why we work with our community partners to help Oklahomans stay safe and cool when temperatures begin to rise.”

The Red Cross continues its partnership with OG&E and area agencies, like the Oklahoma Conferences of Churches, to designate “Cool Zones” for anyone needing to escape the heat and avoid heat related illnesses. For seniors and others vulnerable to heat-related problems, a Cool Zone can be a lifesaver.

“Member churches of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches are excited about participating in this critically important program. Keeping people cool and safe during the scorching summer months is a vital service to the community provided by churches,” said Rev. Dr. William Tabbernee, Executive Director for Oklahoma Conference of Churches”

Cool Zones are located in structures such as libraries, churches, senior citizen centers, etc., and offer air conditioning and cold bottled water to those that don’t have access to these essential items. We are urging residents to “be a cool neighbor” and keep an eye out for those around you who may need help cooling down this summer.

The Red Cross also recommends the following steps to prevent heat-related illnesses:

NEVER LEAVE CHILDREN, PETS IN THE CAR, the inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees. Other heat safety steps include:
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
- Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
- Postpone outdoor games and activities.
- Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.
- Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
- Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water.
- If someone doesn’t have air conditioning, they should choose places to go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).

HEAT EXHAUSTION Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

If someone is experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, lightly stretch the affected muscle, and replenish their fluids with a half a glass (about 4 ounces) of cool water every 15 minutes. 

If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion (cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness exhaustion), move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and spray the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If they are conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.


HEAT STROKE IS LIFE-THREATENING. Signs include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting and high body temperature. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately if someone shows signs of heat stroke. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.

For more information on what to do when temperatures rise, people can visit redcross.org, check out the Red Cross Heat Wave Safety page, or download the free Red Cross First Aid. The app is available for iPhone and Android smart phone and tablet users in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross. People can learn how to treat heat-related and other emergencies by taking First Aid and CPR/AED training online or in person. Go to redcross.org/takeaclass for information and to register.

About Cool Zones: There are more than 200 Cool Zone locations in the Oklahoma City metro area. To find a Cool Zone near you visit oge.com and Twitter (@CoolZonesOGE) or call 2-1-1 for a list of Cool Zone sites.

OG&E and local social service agencies first organized the Cool Zone program in 2001 to help raise public awareness about the health dangers caused by heat. OG&E works with the following agencies in this effort: The American Red Cross, HeartLine, The Salvation Army, United Way of Central Oklahoma, Areawide Aging Agency, Metro Transit, YMCA and the Metropolitan Library System.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. To learn more go online to www.redcross.org/okc.

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