Summertime in Austin brings consecutive days over 100 degrees. The City of Austin encourages residents to keep cool, hydrated, and learn important tips for heat safety. When outdoors, wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
“If you are new to Austin or a long-time resident, we want people to prepare for summer hazards and enjoy the season safely,” said Aoife Longmore, Deputy Director for the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. “It is important for people to be aware of the measures they can take to protect themselves, loved ones and pets.”
New Austinites may not be familiar with the hot and humid weather we may experience from June through September. Extreme heat without precautions can lead to heat disorders like heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Signs for Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
Recognizing the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke are an important part of heat preparedness. Knowing the difference between the two and how to respond can save lives.
Heat Exhaustion Symptoms:
- Cool, pale, clammy skin
- Heavy sweating
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fast, weak pulse
It is important to act quickly when someone is experiencing these symptoms.
- Move victim to a cooler area immediately
- Loosen clothing
- Sip cool water slowly
Seek medical help if symptoms do not improve, last longer than an hour, or the victim begins vomiting. Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke within minutes.
Heat Stroke Symptoms:
- Hot, red, dry or damp skin
- Rapid and strong pulse
- Throbbing headache
- Nausea or dizziness
- Body temperature above 103 F.
- Lethargy or loss of consciousness
If you or someone you are with experiences symptoms of heat stroke, MOVE THEM, COOL THEM, CALL 9-1-1. Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency and can cause death or permanent damage if emergency treatment is not given promptly.
- Move the victim to a cooler area, preferably air-conditioned
- Reduce their body temperature with cool cloths or bath.
- Do NOT give fluids or anything by mouth to a person experiencing heat stroke.
Avoid high-energy activities, working outdoors during midday heat or peak sun hours if possible, or indoors without air conditioning. When working outdoors, have plenty of fluids handy and a shady spot nearby to cool off or take breaks. The City of Austin has a Rest Break Ordinance. All employees performing construction activities at a construction site are entitled to a rest break of no less than 10 minutes for every four (4) hours worked.
Keep our pets safe during high temperatures. Have plenty of cool water and accessible shade for them. Collapsible water bowls are a great tool and remember asphalt and dark pavement can be very hot on pet’s feet that can burn or blister on hot pavement.
Never leave people or pets unattended in a closed car on a warm day. Temperatures in vehicles climb much faster and can reach dangerous temperatures in only a few minutes. On an 80-degree day outside, temperatures inside a vehicle can reach 94 degrees in two minutes and more than 120 degrees in less than an hour. Cracking the windows open does not significantly reduce how high the temperature inside the vehicle can reach.
LOOK BEFORE YOU LOCK! Heat stroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle-related deaths in children. Before leaving your vehicle, check for children, pets, and adults in the back seat. If you see someone locked in a hot car, take action and call 9-1-1 immediately. It can save a life.
City of Austin facilities, including Libraries and Recreation Centers, can be used as Cooling Centers, a temporary respite from the heat, during normal operating hours. Service animals are allowed in City-facilities.
Heat Safety Tips from Austin Travis County EMS
Make sure you are prepared for the heat before you go outdoors.
- Pre-hydrate before going into the heat.
- Plan ahead and dress appropriately for sun and heat.
- Apply sunscreen before sun exposure and reapply frequently.
- Learn the signs of heat-related illness and be ready to take action if needed.
- Heat-related illnesses can progress into heat stroke within minutes. If you or someone you’re with shows signs of heat-related illness, begin cooling measures immediately.
- Always know where you are. If you’re going to a greenbelt, or to the lake, download the what3words app from your provider so first responders can find you quickly if you need help.
Mosquito Protection Tips from Austin Public Health
Summer heat also brings an increase in mosquitoes. Mosquitoes may harbor several diseases that contribute to outbreaks of Zika, West Nile, dengue fever, encephalitis and canine heartworm. Austin-Travis County is officially in mosquito season.
Effective control of mosquito populations helps prevent or reduce these outbreaks and enhances the enjoyment of outdoor activities by everyone in the community.
Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself from mosquitoes.
Drain standing water. Mosquitoes grow in standing water. They breed quickly – in just a few days, they can lay hundreds of eggs. Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover or throw out containers that hold water, including tires, pet water bowls, containers and buckets, planters, toys like water tables or kiddie pools, birdbaths, flowerpot saucers, trash containers, and rain barrels.
Protect yourself by applying insect repellent. Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the active ingredients below. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven to be safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding people. Repellents include DEET, Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US), IR3535, Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), Para-menthane-diol (PMD), and 2-undecanone. Find the right insect repellent for you by using the EPA’s search tool.
Wear protective clothing. Wear long pants and long sleeves when you’re outside, especially in places with high mosquito activity.
To report a mosquito problem, call 3-1-1 or complete a Service Request online.
Conserving water is an important part of maintaining our ecosystems and public water services. Most of Texas, including the Central Texas region, is experiencing serious drought conditions. Record high temperatures and low rainfall have taken a toll on the Lower Colorado River Basin and Lakes Travis and Buchanan, the source of our water supply. Austin Water is currently under Stage 1 watering restrictions. Austin residents can protect their lakes, the environment, and their future water supply by watering only one day a week with automatic sprinklers and a second day, if need be, with hoses. Join your neighbors in helping your community and wallet by adhering to the mandatory watering days and times. Find your watering days and times here.
Austin Energy spends all year planning and preparing for extreme weather. The utility started summer preparations months ago to make sure power plants are ready for hot temperatures. Preparations also include regularly scheduled inspections and maintenance of power plants. Staff use both in-person and remote monitoring to gauge the performance of these preparations, which are re-evaluated ahead of any major storm or weather shift.
Austin Energy encourages customers to prepare for emergencies or extreme weather at home as well. When temperatures rise, your air conditioner use will likely increase as well. This can mean higher electricity bills during the warmer months. Here are some tips to help you monitor your electricity use:
- Set your thermostat at 78 degrees or higher in the warm months of the year.
- Install LED light bulbs. They use less electricity, generate less heat and last longer.
- Point fans in your direction. Fans blowing directly on you can make temperatures around you feel about 4 degrees cooler. Only keep fans on when you are in the room.
- Close shades/curtains on windows hit by direct sunlight. This helps to prevent heat from getting indoors.
- Avoid turning on the oven during the hottest time of the day. Using a microwave or a slow cooker produces less heat.
- Unplug appliances, chargers, and electronic devices when you are not using them. They use energy even when they are turned off. Turn off your lights when you leave a room.
Visit austinenergy.com/go/summer for more information on how to save energy during hot weather, power outages and how to save energy and water during the summer. Sign up for Austin Energy’s Outage Alerts to send and receive text notifications about power outages. Get started by texting REGISTER to 287846.
For more information on identifying, preventing and treating heat-related illnesses visit readycentraltexas.org.