How Houston groups are helping people weather the 100-degree heat

HOUSTON – For the second day in a row, the city of Houston has activated cooling centers around the area as part of a public health heat emergency plan.

People at risk of heat-related illness, adults 55 and older, kids 5 and under and people with chronic illness are urged to stay inside air-conditioned buildings during the hottest time of the day between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Nonprofit organizations like the Houston YWCA that operate programs for homebound senior citizens are doing extra house calls to make sure their clients are OK. They are also working to provide A/C units to seniors who need them.

"We serve over 1,000 seniors on our homebound program  a day and so with that we have some seniors that don't have a/c or they have A/C that's not properly working, so if you would like to donate  an A/C unit or even do maintenance on an A/C unit we definitely would like for them to contact our office," said Rhonda James with the Houston YWCA.

If you'd like to donate an A/C unit or repair services, you may contact the YWCA at 713-868-9922. To make a monetary donation visit http://www.ywcahouston.org

Anyone without A/C can seek shelter at the following city cooling centers between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.:

•       Acres Homes Multi-Service Center: 6719 W Montgomery Road
•       Kashmere Multi-Service Center: 4802 Lockwood Drive
•       Southwest Multi-Service Center: 6400 High Star Drive
•       Sunnyside Multi-Service Center: 9314 Cullen Boulevard
•       Houston Public Library (Downtown): 500 McKinney Street
People without adequate transportation to a designated cooling center can call 311 to request a free ride from METRO.

High-risk groups such as adults age 55 and older, children under the age of 5 and people with chronic illness are urged to stay inside air-conditioned buildings between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., the hottest part of the day.

The Houston Health Department urges people to protect themselves and loved ones from potentially deadly heat-related illness with the following tips:

  • Increase water consumption. Drink lots of liquids even before getting thirsty, but avoid those with caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar because they can result in the loss of body fluid.
  • Conduct outdoor work or exercise in the early morning or evening when it is cooler. Outdoor workers should drink plenty of water or electrolyte replacement beverages and take frequent breaks in the shade or in an air-conditioned facility. Those unaccustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment need to start slowly and gradually increase heat exposure over several weeks.
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that permit the evaporation of perspiration.
  • Do not leave children, senior citizens or pets unattended in a vehicle.
  • A wide-brimmed hat helps prevent sunburn as well as heat-related illness. Sunscreen also protects from the sun’s harmful rays and reduces the risk of sunburn.
  • If the house is not air-conditioned, seek accommodations in air-conditioned facilities during the heat of the day: multiservice centers, malls, movie theaters, libraries, etc.
  • Take frequent cool baths or showers if your home is not air-conditioned.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include: 

  • faintness
  • dizziness
  • excessive sweating
  • cool or clammy skin
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • muscle cramps
  • rapid, or weak pulse.

People experiencing these symptoms should lower the body temperature by getting to a cooler place, drinking water, taking a cool shower or bath and resting.

A throbbing headache, lack of sweat, red, hot and dry skin, nausea or vomiting, loss of consciousness, and a rapid, strong pulse are signs of heat stroke. If these symptoms occur, call 911 immediately and try to lower the person’s body temperature until help arrives.

Even when the Public Health Heat Emergency Plan is not activated, people may seek air-conditioning in city multiservice centers, libraries and recreation centers during normal business hours.

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