Houston Health Department

Cooling centers remain available as heat emergency plan deactivated

August 14, 2019

HOUSTON - City of Houston cooling centers, consisting of 11 multi-service centers, 60 community centers and 40 library locations remain available during business hours, however the City of Houston Public Health Heat Emergency Plan has been suspended, including free METRO rides to designated cooling centers.

The plan is activated when the heat index reaches 108 degrees two or more consecutive days and suspended when it falls below that threshold.

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.

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

  • Stay hydrated by drinking more water than usual — and don't wait until you're thirsty. Avoid beverages with caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar because these can result in the loss of body fluid.
  • Take breaks if working outdoors and schedule work in the morning or evening. Wear light-colored, loose fitting clothing that permits the evaporation of perspiration. Those unaccustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment need to start slowly and gradually increase heat exposure over several weeks. 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.
  • Cool off by going to a cooling center (multi-service centers) or other facility open to the public such as libraries, malls, or community centers if you don't have air conditioning. Take frequent cool baths or showers if your home is not air-conditioned.
  • Check on vulnerable people like young children, older adults and those who live alone. Never leave a person or pet unattended in a vehicle.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include faintness, dizziness, excessive sweating, cool or clammy skin, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, and a rapid, 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.

Confusion, 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 9-1-1 immediately and try to lower the person’s body temperature until help arrives.

Lists of city facilities and hours of operation are available at HoustonEmergency.org.