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Health and Human Services

HOUSTON ACTIVATES HEAT EMERGENCY PLAN

July 9, 2009
Contact Kathy Barton 713-794-9998
Porfirio Villarreal 713-794-9021

The City of Houston has activated its Heat Emergency Plan. The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat advisory for southeast Texas through 4 a.m. Friday. A heat advisory is issued when the heat index, a computation of the air temperature and humidity, reaches 108 degrees for two consecutive days.

During a heat emergency, everyone is urged to take extra precaution to protect themselves from heat-related illness and death. High-risk groups such as adults age 55 and older, children under the age of five 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. Anyone living without air-conditioning can seek air-conditioned shelter at any city facility or a regional city-cooling center.

Houstonians needing transportation assistance to a city-cooling center may call 311 and ask for cooling centers. Transportation to regional cooling centers will be provided by Metro. Due to the high volume of calls 3-1-1 may be receiving, callers may experience a delay or a busy tone but are encouraged to redial 3-1-1. If a call is answered by the automated 3-1-1 system, stay on the line for further assistance.

The Houston Department of Health and Human Services recommends people take precautions against high heat and humidity to prevent illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. To prevent heat-related illnesses:

  • Increase water consumption. Drink lots of liquids even before getting thirsty, but avoid those with caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar because these can actually 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.
  • Check on the elderly. Take the initiative to check seniors for signs of heat related illnesses. It takes the elderly nearly twice the time of younger people to return to core body temperature after exposure to extreme temperatures.
  • Wear light-colored, loose fitting clothing that permits 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: multi-service centers, malls, movie theaters, libraries, etc.
  • Take frequent cool baths or showers if your home is not air-conditioned.
  • Stay alert to heat advisories. The National Weather Service declares a Heat Emergency when the heat index, a computation of the air temperature and humidity, reaches 108 degrees on two or more consecutive days. A heat index of 108 is a potential health threat for all people and is particularly dangerous for high-risk groups.

City facilities operating as cooling centers and their hours of operation are:

Central Library
500 McKinney
M 9-9 • Tu 9-9 • W 9-6 • Th 9-9 • F 9-6 • Sa 9-6 • Su 1-5
832-393-1313

Collier Regional Library
6200 Pinemont
M 9-9 • Tu 9-9 • W 9-9 • Th 9-9 • F 9-6 • Sa 9-6 • Su 1-5
832-393-1740

Henington-Alief Regional Library
7979 South Kirkwood
M 9-9 • Tu 9-9 • W 9-9 • Th 9-9 • F 9-6 • Sa 9-6 • Su 1-5
832-393-1820

Park Place Regional Library
8145 Park Place Blvd
M 9-9 • Tu 9-9 • W 9-9 • Th 9-9 • F 9-6 • Sa 9-6 • Su 1-5
832-393-1970

Scenic Woods Regional Library
10677 Homestead
M 9-9 • Tu 9-9 • W 9-9 • Th 9-9 • F 9-6 • Sa 9-6 • Su 1-5
832-393-2030