Beat The Heat

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Protect Yourself From the Dangers of Extreme Heat

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Extreme Heat

Extreme heat is the condition where temperatures hover 100˚F or more above the average high temperature in a region for an extended period. The heat index is a measure of how hot it really feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature. As an example, if the air temperature is 96˚F and the relative humidity is 65%, the heat index—how hot it feels—is 121˚F.

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Houston issues a Heat Advisory when the heat index reaches 108˚F for two consecutive days.

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The Heat Index scale is categorized by level of danger, based on the likelihood of heat disorders occurring with prolonged exposure or strenuous activity.

  • Caution is the category with the lowest likelihood of severe health effects and indicates that fatigue due to heat exposure is possible.
  • Extreme Caution is the next category on the scale of warning and indicates that sunstroke, muscle cramps, or heat exhaustion are possible.
  • Danger indicates that the symptoms of the extreme caution category have become likely.
  • Extreme Danger indicates that heat stroke is likely and is the category that represents the highest level of danger for those exposed.
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Heat Wave Safety

Heat Wave Safety Learn how to stay safe during a heat wave and how to treat heat-related illness like heat exhaustion

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Heat Wave – prolong period of excessive heat, often combined with excessive humidity.

Heat Index – a number in degrees Fahrenheit (˚F) that tells how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to the air temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 degrees.

Excessive Heat Outlooks are issued when the potential exists for an excessive heat event in the next three to seven days.

Heat Advisory – Take Action! A Heat Advisory is issued within 12 hours of the onset of extremely dangerous heat conditions. The general rule of thumb for this Advisory is when the maximum heat index temperature is expected to be 100˚F or higher for at least a day, and nighttime air temperatures will not drop below 75˚F; however, these criteria vary across the country, especially for areas that are not used to dangerous heat conditions. Take precautions to avoid heat illness. If you don’t take precautions, you may become seriously ill or even die.

Excessive Heat Watches – Be Prepared! Heat watches are issued when conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event in the next 24 to 72 hours. A Watch is used when the risk of a heat wave has increased but its occurrence and timing is still uncertain.

Excessive Heat Warning – Take Action! An Excessive Heat Warning is issued within 12 hours of the onset of extremely dangerous heat conditions. The general rule of thumb for this Warning is when the maximum heat index temperature is expected to be 105˚F or higher for at least two days and nighttime air temperature will not drop below 75˚F; however, these criteria vary across the country, especially for areas not used to extreme heat conditions. If you don’t take precautions immediately when conditions are extreme, you may become seriously ill or even die.

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Stay cool with Summer Heat Safety Tips

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  • Test your home cooling system to ensure it is in proper working order. Have your cooling system serviced each spring.
  • Make sure your home is well-insulated and that you have weather stripping around your doors and windowsills to keep the cool air inside.
  • Get under cover when the heat is the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and UV-blocking sunglasses during extreme heat events.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and replace salts and minerals in your body. Avoid alcohol or liquids containing high amounts of sugar. Anyone on a fluid-restricted diet or who has a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
    • People with epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease should also consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
    • A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.

Extreme heat during the summer months is a common occurrence throughout Harris County. The county’s subtropical climate and location along the Gulf of Mexico, make it vulnerable to extreme heat events. In the last 20 years, Harris County has experienced 10 prolonged extreme heat events. Find your local cooling centers.

  • Cooling centers will open only in the event of heat emergencies.
    • Excessive Heat Warning may prompt the use of Harris County Libraries as cooling centers.
    • Heat index values greater than 113°F or ambient air temperature greater than 105°F.
    • Malls, movie theaters, and other venues also offer relief from the heat
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How to Cope and Stay Safe in Extreme Heat

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  • Closely monitor a local radio station, TV station, or NOAA Weather Radio for the latest information.
  • Install light-colored, cool roofing materials to lower the building’s internal temperature.
  • Install temporary window reflectors, such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.
  • Increase shade around your property by planting drought tolerant trees and other vegetation. (Drought tolerant trees can provide shade during extreme heat days while eliminating the need for excess watering during times of drought.)
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
  • Always remember to LOOK BEFORE YOU LOCK for children and pets in vehicles.
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Where you can learn more

Where you can learn more: