Discover ways to keep yourself safe and cool in Texas this summer with record-high temperatures.
Texas summers are notorious for bringing severe heat that’s not for the faint of heart. But this summer’s heat waves are giving even seasoned Texans a run for their money.
Throughout May and June alone, there have been a staggering number of 100-degree days across the state
, and some cities like Del Rio and San Antonio reached 110+ degrees
Fahrenheit. Not to mention, Central Texas has tracked its second hottest summer this summer.
With no signs of cooling down, August will likely follow these heat trends, so you must prepare for the hot days ahead. Use this brief guide to handling the Texas heat to understand how hot weather affects Texans and what you can do to cope with the Texas summer heat.
What are the health risks of extreme Texas heat?
Taking advantage of the good weather is the best part of summer, but when there are heat waves and triple-digit temperatures, being outside for too long can be dangerous.
As temperatures rise, the likelihood of contracting heat-related illnesses
increases, and the effects worsen. The National Weather Service (NWS) reported that extreme heat has killed more people in the last 10 years
than any other weather phenomenon.
Anyone can be affected by the heat. However, people 65 and older, those with chronic diseases or high blood pressure, children under 2, and people who work or exercise in hot environments are more prone to these illnesses.
How do you know how hot is too hot? First, pay attention to your local weather team’s reports. They will alert the area when there is a heat advisory and likely provide additional information on staying cool.
Another great tool is the NWS’s heat index
. Using the weather and humidity in your local area, you’ll see how high temperatures feel to the human body and how at risk you are for heat-related illnesses.
Heat conditions to look out for and how to treat them
Before we tell you ways to prepare for the summer heat and ways to stay cool, let’s go over the conditions you’re trying to avoid. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
, heat-related illnesses are preventable and easier to detect when you know the symptoms.
Heat rash is the mildest heat-related condition, but you still want to avoid it. Heat rash shows on the skin of the neck, chest, groin, or elbow creases and appears as red, pimple-like blisters formed in clusters.
To treat heat rash, move to a cool, dry place and dry your skin before using a powder like baby powder to soothe the inflammation.
Sunburn is so common it may seem dramatic to call it an illness or condition. However, depending on its severity, a sunburn could have you finding yourself in a doctor’s office.
Sunburn can appear on your skin as swelling, blisters, or redness. It can cause your skin to be warm to the touch and cause fever, headache, or pain.
To treat sunburn, move out of the sun until your condition heals. Taking a cool bath or putting a cool cloth on the area can relieve pain. You can also apply moisturizing lotion and aloe vera to the site to help soothe pain.
If you have blisters, apply a topical ointment to the area, and dress blisters that may break, but do not break them yourself. Don't hesitate to see a physician if you’re concerned about your condition or if it seems severe.
Heat cramps often come on during physical activity. You may experience heavy sweating, muscle pain, or spasms in your legs and abdomen.
To treat heat cramps, stop your physical activity and move to a cool place. Sip hydrating fluids, like cool water or a sports drink, and apply firm pressure to the affected muscles. A gentle massage and stretch can relieve the spasm.
If your spasms don’t go away after an hour, you’re on a low-sodium diet, or you have heart problems, you should seek medical help immediately.
Heat exhaustion has many symptoms, including:
- Heavy sweating
- Cold, pale, clammy skin
- Fast, strong pulse
- Nausea or vomiting
To treat heat exhaustion, move to a cool place and loosen your clothing. You’ll want to take sips of water and put cool, wet cloths on your body or take a cool bath. If your condition worsens, lasts more than an hour, or you continue vomiting, seek medical help immediately.
Heat Stroke (sunstroke)
Heat stroke is the most severe of the heat-related illnesses. Unlike the other conditions, you should not try treating this on your own. Heat stroke is an extreme medical emergency, so you should seek medical attention immediately.
Heat stroke symptoms include:
- Body temperatures of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
- Hot, red, dry, or damp skin
- Rapid, strong pulse
- Loss of consciousness
To treat heat stroke, act quickly. Call 911 and move to a cool environment. Use cool cloths, sponging, or baths to reduce body temperature, and turn on your fan and air conditioner. Do not drink or give fluids to the person experiencing the heat stroke. Continue cooling the person until medical professionals can take over.
How to prepare for extreme heat in Texas
Now that we know the conditions we’re trying to avoid, it will be easier to prevent them from occurring.
Turning on a fan to circulate air is a good start, but there are more effective ways to reduce your body temperature. Here are a few things you can add to your prep list to keep you and your family safe:
Invest in a home cooling system.
Whether it’s central heating and cooling, or a budget-friendly window air conditioning unit with proper insulation, you’ll need this helping hand to stay cool.
Check your home insulation.
If you’re having a hard time keeping your home cool and you’re seeing spikes in your utility bills
, it’s time to check your home's insulation and the HVAC system's condition.
Cover your windows.
Heat reflectors designed to keep heat out, drapes, and shades are great options for blocking the sun and airflow from windows. While you’re at it, add a weather strip to your doors and windows to keep cool air in and hot air out.
Vent your attic.
Remember the saying that warm air rises and cold air sinks? Think about keeping your home cool, and looking into a powered ventilator or attic fan to push hot air out of your home and regulate the heat becomes a no-brainer.
Find community cooling centers.
Whether keeping your home cool isn’t an option for you or you want to get out of your home, locating local cooling centers like community centers and libraries can help keep you cool.
How to survive outdoor activities during the Texas summer
What happens when there’s a heat warning, and you must go outdoors? Let’s talk about ways you can stay safe and cool outside in Texas this summer.
You’ll first want to plan your day to keep you and your loved ones as cool as possible outdoors. Along with checking if it’s safe to go out, ask yourself the following:
- What are the day's temperatures, and where do they fall on the heat index?
- Can you avoid the midday heat and go out in the early morning or late evening?
- If you know where you’re going that day, can you pre-plan stops where you can stop inside and get cool?
- Are there opportunities to buy or refill a water bottle to ensure you’re drinking water while you're out?
By planning your activities for the day, you can reduce how long you’re in the sun, especially if you’ll be out during the hottest part of the day. And once you’re ready to walk out the door, you’ll want to keep these things in mind.
- Apply sunscreen with SPF 15 or more.
- Wear light-colored clothing and use a hat to protect your face and scalp.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Bring along a buddy if the heat is intense in case of an emergency.
- If you must exercise outdoors, avoid midday heat and take frequent, 10-minute water breaks at least every 30 minutes.
- Protect your pet’s paws by avoiding dark pavement, asphalt, and concrete while walking them.
- Never leave your pets or babies in closed, hot cars. Doing so can be fatal.
Lastly, make sure you take steps to keep your vehicle as cool as possible
when venturing out into the summer heat.
Fun indoor activities to beat the Texas heat
If the temperatures outside are too intense, or you’d rather manage the Texas heat by staying indoors, we have some fun ideas for you too:
- Catch up on reading a good book.
- Invite your friends over for a dinner party.
- Take your family bowling.
- Flex your gaming skills at an arcade or indoor mini-golf complex.
- Try a new restaurant, especially in the evening.
- Head to the ice skating rink.
- Whether shopping or just browsing, you can visit the mall.
- Head to one of Texas's many extensive (and sometimes strange) museums.
- Take friends or family to the movies to see a summer blockbuster.
No matter how you deal with Texas heat, what’s most important is staying safe and cool. If you need assistance covering the costs of proper cooling methods, look into the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
for more options.
Have a question about insurance? Find an independent agent here!
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