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Health department offers prevention tips for heat-related illnesses

Doctors and emergency rooms can easy predict that summer as a prime time for injuries, heat illness and similar ails because so many people get outside for sports and other outdoor activities, health experts say.

The Oklahoma City-County Health Department has plenty of advice to offer to the community in attempt to ward off such unpleasant outcomes.

Phil Maytubby, Chief of Public Health Protection at the OCCHD, said that everyone is in danger when temperatures consistently are high. However, there are a few groups of people who demand special attention.

“What you really want to do is to check for those people who either don’t have the awareness or don’t have the ability to check on themselves,” he said, “babies, young children, and elderly people, those whose cognitive skills aren’t as good as the average, everyday person.”

It is also crucial that no child, adult or pet is left in a closed, parked vehicle, even for very short periods.

The OCCHD has numerous suggestions to reduce the potential for heat-related illnesses and summer injuries, but staying hydrated seems to be the point of emphasis. “Dehydration starts everything. So really, the big message here is to stay hydrated; try to keep your body cool,” said Maytubby.

However, when it comes to hydration, not all liquids suffice. It is best to drink water. Try to avoid liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar. Drinking these types of beverages can often cause the body to lose more fluid than it is consuming.

Staying indoors is strongly encouraged. Although this is not always possible for people who work outdoors, resting in shady areas is one beneficial option. While partaking in outdoor activities, wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing. Lighter colors reflect the sunlight as opposed to absorbing it.

This time of year is especially dangerous for athletes and people who exercise or play outdoor sports. Maytubby highlights the importance of supervising these groups of people.

“They need to be very, very closely monitored. You just really have to watch. I know that most of the sports programs now do pay attention to that, and they take very frequent breaks.”

People who exercise outdoors should drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. Even though sports drinks can replace salt and minerals that are lost during a workout, once again, water is best.

Failure to prepare for extreme temperatures can potentially result in dehydration, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. “Once you get to that point, everything starts happening, and you can start having issues with organs shutting down,” said Maytubby.

These are problems that no one wants to face, therefore, proper hydration and limited, outdoor exposure is crucial.

To learn more about how to prevent heat-related illnesses and other safety tips, go to or





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