With good reason –– it’s more than 100 degrees in the shade –– you are being inundated with media reports about the effects of heat.
Over the years, I have done my share of inundating, reporting stories that ranged from how someone’s childhood sunburn turned into an adult melanoma to how a baby left in a baking car fell into a coma as Mom or Dad gambled.
How much of an effect those stories had on readers I’ll never know. What I do know is that those stories affected me. Because I worried that all the sunburns I got as a kid from running around without a shirt or suntan lotion on would come back to haunt me, my children always wore both.
After I reported the story of a baby baking in a car, I made sure I filled the tank up before I took my little ones for a ride –– no way I was going to leave them even for a few minutes in a blistering car as I pumped gasoline.
Now, thanks to a chilling story shared by Dr. Dale Carrison, head of emergency at University Medical Center, I know not to sleep under a sprinkler to stay cool.
It turns out that early one morning a few years ago first responders dropped off at UMC a liquored-up gentleman who had decided to beat the heat by sleeping underneath a sprinkler all night.
He beat the heat, but he almost ended up on ice in the morgue.
His body core temperature fell 12 degrees, to about 86.
As the sun warmed the morning to more than 90 degrees, the man was freezing to death.
A complete failure of his heart and respiratory system wasn’t far away.
So there was Carrison, who just hours earlier helped an elderly couple beat heat exhaustion, desperately trying to save the life of a shivering fellow dying of hypothermia.
Sweating as the air conditioning struggled to keep up with the rising temperature outside, Carrison pumped the man full of warm IV fluids and wrapped him in a special blanket.
It was hours before the man warmed up enough to drink to the memory.
Years after his rescue effort, Carrison still has a difficult time believing what happened.
“Who in the world would have thought I’d save somebody from freezing to death on a 100-degree day in Las Vegas?”
In the world of stories that journalists tell about the effects of heat –– where death is all too often found in the lead –– Carrison’s tale with an upbeat ending is wonderful to share. But if you want a positive story showing that the effects of heat aren’t all bad, there’s one out of Houston that even has a scientific bent.
When I lived there during the 1980s, I enjoyed watching Nolan Ryan throw heat for the Astros. His 101 mph heater induced effects that sent him onto the Hall of Fame: strikeout after strikeout, enough to help him easily go on to set both the career record for strikeouts (5,714) and no-hitters (seven).
His heat also had the effect of drawing the attention of Morganna, the “Kissing Bandit,” a stripper who ran onto baseball fields to kiss the American pastime’s biggest stars in the middle of games.
With measurements of 60-24-30, she had an I-cup built just for her.
American ingenuity aside, after she ran out and kissed Ryan, police arrested her for trespassing on the Astrodome field.
Her lawyer, Richard “Racehorse” Haynes, argued in court that Sir Isaac Newton’s law of gravity pulled the top-heavy Morganna over the Astrodome fence. The judge, obviously impressed with the scientific quality of the argument, ruled in Morganna’s favor.
Morganna, bless her heart, was so impressed with my science reporting that she sent me 100 long-stem red roses with a message that ended, “Breast Wishes.”
Later, I learned from Racehorse that heat had an effect on him, too.
“I came up with the defense at the last minute after taking a good look at her,” he said. “It was a heat of the moment thing.”
Contact reporter Paul Harasim at pharasim@ reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2908.