Take precautions against heat-related illnesses

Although the stifling temperatures have somewhatsubsided compared to the previous three weeks, thepotential for heat-related illness is still high.Since June, when the ever-increasing record breakingheat wave began, LeFlore County EMS hastreated more than 20 patients suffering from heatcramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. No heatrelatedfatalities have been recorded in the countyaccording to Dave Grovdahl, Director of LeFloreCounty Emergency Medical Services.A recent study released concluded 33 people diedfrom heat-related illnesses in 2011 in Oklahoma. Thevictims ranged in age from 3-91. The majority werewhite men and the peak time of death from heat wasduring the first week of August.According to the Oklahoma State HealthDepartment, elderly people and young children arevery susceptible to heat illnesses. Other factors thatcan make a person less able to tolerate the high temperaturesis obesity, fever, heart disease, dehydration,sunburn, alcohol use and the use of illicit drugs.A few tips to remember that could very well saveyour life before you brave the heat are: increase yourfluid intake to four glasses of cool fluids every hour;avoid liquids containing alcohol or large amounts ofsugar; wear lightweight, light-colored loose-fittingclothing and sunscreen and try to stay in an air-conditionedplace if possible.In 2011, 49 children died from heat exposure in theUnited States, according to the Injury PreventionService of OSDH. Never leave a child unattended ina vehicle, even with the window slightly open. It isagainst the law in Oklahoma.If you have a child in a car seat, always rememberto place an item you intend to carry when you get outof the car in the back seat. It is a reminder your childis in the back seat and lessens the chance of accidentallyleaving your child unattended. OKDH also suggestssetting a reminder on your phone asking youwhere your child is if you experience a schedulechange. This too can prevent accidental injury ordeath. As the temperatures begin to rise again, officialsremind everyone not to become a statistic.Respect the heat and keep cool and hydrated.