Hot tips to stay cool

Lawton hasn't officially hit 100 degrees this summer, but that doesn't mean it doesn't feel like it.  It's pretty close, now, and hard to quibble over a degree or two.  And, we're not alone.  The National Weather Service says over 22 states are experiencing the heat wave.  Heat index levels are at and above 100 degrees.  A lot of us can stay indoors and keep cool, but lots of others can't.  Construction workers, kids playing sports and many others must brave the heat.

British Soccer Camp rolled into town this week and the youngsters attending are freshening up on their technique.  Michelle O'Neal has two sons attending the camp.  She says one thing she is keeping on top of is sunscreen application.  She's noticed that the kids don't wear hats at soccer practice, so she slathers on the SPF.  O'Neal is  also keeping the kids hydrated.  "We brought lots of cold water today and I brought a smaller cooler and I froze a couple of them because the kids think they have to have an extra one to pour on their heads as well," she said.

Construction workers toil in the heat just like any other day.  Dan Schwartz says their office is outdoors so they have to deal with the heat.  "We try to make sure everyone stays hydrated during the course of the day," he said.  They have a safety professional that comes out to the job site to make sure everyone is hydrating properly.

You can donate a fan to "Fans for Friends" at the Salvation Army.  They give out fans to anyone who needs them.  They say they have already given out close to 100 fans.  So, they could really use some more.  If you can donate, please drop them by the Salvation Army at 1306 SW E Ave.  If you need a fan, bring your ID and proof that you don't have air conditioning in your home.

Here are some tips from the Comanche County Health Department for staying healthy in the heat:

  • Drink more fluids, regardless of your activity level. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink. (Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot.)
  • Don't drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar; these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
  • Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library. Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.
  • Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
  • Although any one at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on infants and young children, people aged 65 or older, people who have a mental illness, and those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure.

If you must be out in the heat, the Comanche County Health Department suggests the following:

  • Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
  • Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat, however, if you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage.
  • Try to rest often in shady areas.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say "broad spectrum" or "UVA/UVB protection" on their labels).

"If you experience signs of heat stress such as dizziness, rapid heartbeat, diarrhea, nausea, cramps, throbbing headache, dry skin (no sweating), chest pain, great weakness, mental changes, breathing problems, or vomiting, contact your health care provider immediately," Ms. Mahan said.

For more information about heat-related illnesses and heat safety tips, contact the Comanche County Health Department at 580-248-5890.