Fire department urges residents to stay hydrated
By Valerie Scott
Midwest City Beacon
Local residents are burning to know how to stay cool during this summer heat.
As temperatures begin to rest in the triple digits and no rain in sight, heat exhaustion can take a toll on us all.
Del City Fire Chief Brandon Pursell shared insight on how citizens can take precautions during the dog days of Oklahoma summer.
“I would really stress to citizens to know your limits. Everyone who has been working outside like construction, street maintenance, stuff like that they’ve been getting acclimated. Those who haven’t gotten used to the heat are the ones who really need to watch out, but even those acclimated aren’t immune to the heat,” said Pursell.
The average Joe who hasn’t been equipped needs to drink plenty of water.
“The general population hasn’t gotten used to the harsh temperatures, they’ll get out and start doing yard work and not realize the heat has snuck up on them,” said Pursell. “Keeping hydrated is really the key. [People need to] recognize the first symptoms of dehydration like a dry mouth or cramping. Coke, coffee, tea, and energy drinks are all filled with caffeine and are diuretics. Water or Gatorade is what you need.”
It’s not just the citizens that need to stay cool this summer but the firefighters as well.
“I tell our men to hydrate yesterday for today. We really stress drinking lots of water even on their days off,” said Pursell. “Each of our trucks has a cooler with water bottles and Gatorade. We also try and get our guys acclimated to the heat but in the afternoons, we stay away from our strenuous outside training and save it for the morning.”
While Oklahoma will always go into weather cycles, this summer’s heat takes the cake.
“Last year the first 18 days of July we had zeros fires- no car fires, no structure fires, nothing,” said Pursell. “This year, from the first to the July 18 we’ve had 16 calls with four house fires and six grass fires. Our overall call volume from January 1 to now is 5 percent over last year.”
The Fourth of July was no different.
“Fourth of July weekend our call volume was up 32 percent compared to last year,” said Pursell.
The spring and summer weather patterns have created rip conditions for grass fires, Pursell said.
“Well, we had a pretty wet spring and early summer which contributed to some pretty good growth. Since we had all that rain that then suddenly stopped, we got a tremendous amount of growth. Everything that was green is now drying out and dead, we’ve got a lot of dormant vegetation as compared to previous years,” said Pursell.
Midwest City Fire Chief, Bert Norton, also gave advice for citizens.
“We’re really stressing hydration to our men,” said Norton. “For citizens, they need to remember drinking just one water bottle isn’t enough. If they are out doing yard work they need to keep a water with them and stay in the shade as much as possible.”
Local HVAC companies are also seeing a spike in service calls.
Paul Albert, owner of All Pro Heating and Air Conditioning for eight years, said the extreme heat pushes home air conditioning systems to the limit.
“We get one specific call that unfortunately, we cannot do anything to fix. Since it’s so hot outside, the equipment is only designed to keep it at say 70 degrees when it’s 90 degrees outside. When we’ve had daily temperatures of 105, the units just can’t maintain 63 degrees like some folks like to keep it at,” said Albert. “People think there is something wrong with their AC units but it’s just not designed to keep up with this heat.”
Citizens are also finding ways to cope with the hot weather. Rick Habbyjam, originally from London but a resident of
Choctaw for 20 years, shared his thoughts on the Oklahoma weather.
“Obviously after drinking lots of water, climatizing slowly to the heat is next, and then making sure you have a cool place to come back to is what everyone needs,” said Habbyjam.