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Sixth Oklahoma heat death prompts call for caution

Oklahomans need to take the state's continuing heat wave more seriously, medical providers warned Monday as officials announced the sixth heat-related death of the year.
BY BRYAN DEAN bdean@opubco.com Published: July 26, 2011
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Oklahomans need to take the state's continuing heat wave more seriously, medical providers warned Monday as officials announced the sixth heat-related death of the year.

A 91-year-old Tulsa woman's death Sunday was attributed to the heat, said Cherokee Ballard, spokeswoman for the state medical examiner's officer. The woman's name was not released Monday. Sunday's high temperature in Tulsa was 107 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

Five other deaths officially have been blamed on the heat, and it is suspected as a cause in seven other deaths, Ballard said.

Emergency Medical Services Authority paramedics are responding to about seven heat calls a day, spokeswoman Lara O'Leary said. Whether it's someone working outside who didn't take enough breaks, or a golfer or tennis player who thought they were in good enough shape to cope with the heat, the common thread is water, O'Leary said.

“Most of what we are seeing is patients admitting they didn't realize they needed to drink as much water as they need while outside in this heat,” O'Leary said. “You need two 16-ounce bottles of water an hour.”

Sunday was the 32nd day of 100-plus-degree temperatures in Oklahoma City. The record for a calendar year is 50, set in 1980. Overnight showers kept temperatures down Monday morning, and temperatures stayed in the low- to mid-90s most of the day.

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