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Summer heat puts health at risk

EMTs pack ice water into ambulances (Source KSWO) EMTs pack ice water into ambulances (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - Southwest Oklahoma is heating up, and a few towns have already hit triple digits.

In the summer months, the 911 calls on heat-related problems climb. Paramedics with Comanche County Memorial Hospital have prepared for the increase in heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

EMTs say they are there to help, but encourage everyone to follow some safety tips to avoid having heat related medical emergencies this summer.

If you're outside at all this summer working or enjoying the day outside, one thing paramedics really push is water, water and more water.

Richie Bohach, the EMS Manager at Comanche County Memorial, says you drink water before, during and after the time you're out in the heat. He also says that what gets most people is that they don't take breaks and sit in the shade to keep their temperature low. He says to stay healthy out here in the heat know when your body is telling you it's too hot.

"Your body core temperature can rise and rise and once it gets up over about 103 to 105 then it becomes a serious medical emergency,” Bohach said.

At the start of the summer season, Comanche County Memorial paramedics start every shift by putting an ice chest full of water bottles and chilled IV packs into their ambulances.

"You have of course heat exhaustion with a patient… and then you have heat stroke where it's actually a critical medical emergency. And at that point, then we will use the ice to cool those patients, ice and water typically,” Bohach said.

Bohach says the symptoms of heat exhaustion are light-headedness, shortness of breath, dizziness and tunnel vision. He says if those symptoms aren't addressed, it can progress to a heat stroke.

"Just know what to look for and then you can prevent that from progressing to heat stroke or even death,” Bohach said.

People with heat stroke stop sweating, and usually pass out from the heat. Bohach says if you are suffering from heat exhaustion, you have to take quick action to cool yourself down.

"I would say get in front of a fan, get in front of an air conditioner, get out of the environment, even a quick 10-degree change in temperature going to help,” Bohach said.

However, not everyone has access to A/C or a fan. That's where the Salvation Army and Captain Israel Roseno come in. They give away free fans for those who need it to stay cool in the summer.

"It's one of those things that we don't think about it. Like my family, we have air conditioning at home and so we don't think about it. But see when you actually go and visit some of those individuals and sometimes see the conditions that they are in. That's when you really understand how important, how vital for some of those individuals to have a fan at home,” Roseno said.

Roseno says for some families these fans can save the family a trip to the hospital.

"It doesn't take much for you to have a heat stroke for not having the proper environment inside your home,” Roseno said.

They have given away more than 50 fans, and expect to hand out more as the summer continues.

"To see that there are so many individuals just for a fan that costs like you know, $15, $20 that we can make a huge different in their lives, it brings a lot of joy to our hearts,” Roseno said.

The Salvation Army is always taking donations to keep the people in Lawton in danger of getting overheated in their own homes. You can either buy a fan and drop it off or donate money.

The Salvation Army also has their shelter open from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m.  While it's not open during the heat of the day, it is a place to recover with meals, beds,  A/C and water to cool off.

Copyright 2016 KSWO. All rights reserved.

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