Dave Greb dressed more like a cowboy Monday than an Oklahoma City maintenance worker, but his Western garb helped him beat the heat while he sprayed pesticide near the Centennial Land Run Monument south of Bricktown.
A red handkerchief damp with sweat hung loosely around his neck. He said he covers his face with it as he sprays poison to keep bugs off plants, but it doubles as something he can wipe his face with when it gets sweaty as it did on Monday, the hottest day of the year in Oklahoma City thus far and the first triple-digit heat of 2012. The heat is expected to last all week.
A cowboy hat sat atop his head, hiding his face from the harsh rays of the sun and matching the cowboy boots on his feet.
“They don't want you to have a heat stroke,” Greb said. “I think that's all companies.”
He is one of many Oklahomans who tried to keep cool Monday as Oklahoma City saw a high of 103 degrees. Buffalo and Freedom in northwest Oklahoma saw highs of 109 degrees.
The Emergency Medical Services Authority issued its first heat alert of the summer Monday. A heat alert is issued when EMSA responds to five or more heat-related medical calls in a 24-hour period.
Though it was the first time this year temperatures hit 100 or more in Oklahoma City, the first triple-digit temperature was recorded in April in Altus, Hollis, Grandfield, Tipton and Erick.
The record high for June 25 was set in 1980 at 105 degrees, said Gary McManus, of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.
Annetta Gresham does ground maintenance in Bricktown and said she takes frequent breaks and drinks lots of liquids while she is working.
She skims the canals for leaves, bugs and garbage. It's a slow job, and there isn't any shade.
“It's bad, real bad, I hate it,” Gresham said.
“A lot of clothes draw a lot of heat, and we have to wear long pants, especially if we're working with equipment.”
EMSA paramedics have responded to more than a dozen heat-related emergencies since June 1 and have taken several patients to area emergency departments, EMSA spokeswoman Lara O'Leary said. Seven patients were treated Monday.
“EMSA is asking Oklahomans to begin to prepare physically and mentally for the elevated temperatures,” O'Leary said. “By that we mean start training for the heat. Begin hydrating hours before you go outside.”
She recommends people wear sunscreen and light-colored clothing and take frequent breaks when outside on hot days because the dangerous heat is expected to continue.
Third ozone alert
Residents in far west Oklahoma City dealt with low water pressure after a 12-inch water pipe at Reno Avenue and Westridge Drive broke Monday afternoon, officials said.
The break was not heat-related, and residents should see pressure return to normal by Tuesday morning.
The heat is increasing pollution, as well as incidences of heat exhaustion.
Monday was the third day for an ozone alert this year compared with the 12 ozone alert days last year.
Ozone alerts are meant to inform the public about increased levels of air pollution and only happen in urban areas, said Darla Hugaboom, program coordinator for the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments transportation division.
Last year's ozone alerts were in July through September. This year's first ozone alert was May 18.
Lisa Mercer took her 10-year-old daughter and her friends to play in one of the fountains at the Myriad Botanical Gardens to beat Monday's heat.
“It's summertime; it's supposed to be hot,” Mercer said.
“Why we expect it to be in the 80s in Oklahoma I'm not really sure.”