It's Day 9 of a heat alert in central Oklahoma, and the temperature is expected to be on the rise throughout the rest of the week.
The high temperatures will be near 100 degrees Wednesday in central Oklahoma with no rain chances in the seven-day forecast. The temperature Friday will be near 102 degrees in Oklahoma City, the National Weather Service reports.
The Emergency Medical Services Authority has responded to 23 heat-related cases in central Oklahoma since July 9, spokeswoman Lara O'Leary said Tuesday. Sixteen people were taken to hospitals.
“Thankfully, we haven't had the baking 100-degree temperatures like we did last year,” O'Leary said.
“I worry that as we enter this marathon of increased temperatures, more senior citizens will be contacting 911 more frequently. They're in their homes longer, are more dehydrated, and more damage occurs to the body as they stay in their homes,” she said.
EMSA has responded to several cases of senior citizens suffering heat-related illnesses since it issued its second heat alert of the year. In some cases, seniors on fixed incomes set their thermostat high to save money, she said.
“We are responding to some senior citizens who are in homes that are 80 to 85 degrees, are dressed with too many layers and are suffering from heat exhaustion,” O'Leary said.
Other cases have involved seniors who don't realize their medications can have adverse reactions in the heat.
“We have been responding to several senior citizens who are taking medications, and on those medications it does say to consult your doctor before going out into the heat,” O'Leary said.
“We know that older people are among the most susceptible to heat-related illnesses and deaths,” AARP Oklahoma spokesman Craig E. Davis said, “and it is because we lose some ability to adapt to the heat and there are some medications that interfere with the body's ability to deal with heat.”
Davis said AARP encourages people to check on the elderly. The organization provides step-by-step instructions on how to go about checking on them and educational materials on how to recognize heat-related illnesses.
“It helps to be able to see the surroundings, to feel the temperature and to make sure that they have food and water, because (heat-related illness) can happen so fast,” O'Leary said.
“Those who suffer from heat stroke become less susceptible to coping to higher temperatures, so it can be a debilitating affliction if you have suffered from heat stroke at any time for the rest of your life,” she said.
EMSA has not seen a case of heat stroke so far this summer, O'Leary said.