Heat death toll rises to 13 in Oklahoma

The heat-related death toll in Oklahoma has risen to 13, officials said. The record high temperature for Aug. 3 in Oklahoma City was broken Wednesday with a high of 109, but the record for hottest day recorded in the city wasn't approached as expected.
BY MICHAEL KIMBALL mkimball@opubco.com Modified: August 3, 2011 at 10:00 pm •  Published: August 3, 2011

Oklahoma City water customers used 193.5 gallons of water Tuesday, city utility spokeswoman Debbie Ragan said, a clear sign to city officials that residents are not honoring the mandatory watering restrictions imposed for much of the summer.

A record daily use of 189 million gallons stood for years but has been surpassed routinely for more than a week, with a record of 202 million gallons set Saturday.

City officials have issued numerous written warnings to violators of the rules, which restrict even-numbered addresses to watering on even-numbered days and odd-numbered addresses to odd-numbered days. But Ragan said tickets with fines of $167 soon will be issued to repeat violators, and more warnings will be issued to those caught for the first time.

Water pressure continues to be low during peak demand periods for residents living on the city's fringes, Ragan said.

“That Bermuda grass will grow back (if it dies this summer),” Ragan said. “People should think about their neighbors and not water on days they shouldn't. Save your bushes and your trees if you can, but the lawn can grow back.”

Heat calls break records

EMSA paramedics responded to 255 heat-related calls in Oklahoma City this summer through Tuesday and took 170 patients to hospitals, said O'Leary, EMSA's spokeswoman. The numbers are easily the most the service has had in the city for one summer.

O'Leary said even healthy, fit people should heed warnings to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, as evidenced by the troubles of one healthy Oklahoma City woman who was overheated Saturday.

Nikeashia Hines, 37, has lived in Oklahoma all of her life. Hines said she has been through numerous hot summers featuring public pleas for people to stay hydrated and out of the sun.

But she never got dangerously overheated until this weekend in her eighth hour of working mostly outside while helping at a church event.

“The thing that scared me was my heart was racing so fast. It just wouldn't stop,” said Hines, who was wearing a hat and sunscreen and had made a point to drink plenty of water.

Hines said she spends some time outside every day but was taken by surprise when she suddenly was sluggish and overheated.

The high in Oklahoma City has been at least 100 degrees for nine straight days and for 37 out of the last 42 days, according to the weather service.

That pattern is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

CONTRIBUTING:

Staff Writer Matt Dinger


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