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In Oklahoma, Tulsa residents are doing what they can to stay cool

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

It's been oppressively hot in much of the U.S. this week. Parts of Oklahoma hit 115 degrees. Chris Polansky of member station KWGS brings us this report from Tulsa.

CHRIS POLANSKY, BYLINE: It's been more than a week since Tulsa posted a daily high below 100. And people here are taking any excuse to cool down. Safari Joe's waterpark is one place that's been drawing big crowds.

SUZYE WORLEY: They say that the lazy river continues to be the coldest place in Tulsa.

POLANSKY: That's park manager Suzye Worley. On this Thursday afternoon, the wave pools and waterslides at Safari Joe's are packed with sweaty camp counselors and church youth groups. Fourteen-year-old Michael Shockley just got off the Raptor Rapids.

MICHAEL SHOCKLEY: Yeah, I've been looking forward to this all week. It's been hot (laughter).

POLANSKY: Splashing around helps. So does staying hydrated. Emergency management officials are urging Tulsans to take care of themselves during dangerous heat waves, which are becoming more frequent and intense because of climate change. Adam Paluka with the local ambulance agency says heat-related calls are way up, and it's mostly younger adults affected.

ADAM PALUKA: Don't think you're invincible because of your age. Don't think you're invincible because of your fitness level. Everybody could succumb to the heat. There's nobody who is immune.

POLANSKY: The city and the Red Cross are standing up cooling stations for people to get cold water and hang out in air conditioning. Red Cross manager Lori Visser encourages people not to try to tough it out.

LORI VISSER: You know, I think people need to be aware of what the heat can do to the body.

POLANSKY: And it's not just people needing relief from the heat.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOG PANTING)

POLANSKY: Clayton Dahm is playing with his rescue puppy Hardy at a dog park on the west side of town. He says Hardy has one pool at home, but the park has several kiddie pools for the pups.

CLAYTON DAHM: So he can get her fix at the dog park with the multiple. But she's not that spoiled yet to have multiple pools and hot tubs and all that (laughter).

POLANSKY: Back at the water park, 14-year-old Shockley says it's an oasis compared with what it's been like the rest of the week.

SHOCKLEY: Just sweating, (laughter) sweating all of it out, man.

POLANSKY: And there's no relief on the horizon. The forecast here calls for triple-digit highs for at least another week.

For NPR News, I'm Chris Polansky in Tulsa, Okla. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Chris Polansky
Chris Polansky is a journalist from New York. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York. His stories have appeared in/on Gothamist / WNYC; the NPR national newscast; Utah Public Radio; Robin Hood Radio / WHDD; The Voice of Harlem / WHCR; The Bridge; the Canarsie Courier; and the Brooklyn Eagle.