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Libraries shelter public from dangerous temperatures as agencies push heat safety awareness

July 24, 2018

Kingwood, Atascocita, Octavia Fields and Crosby branch libraries welcomed Lake Houston area residents into their facilities on Monday, July 23, in order to escape the dangerously high temperatures during a heat advisory.

All of the Harris County Public Library branch locations were designated as cooling centers by the Harris County Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

“During normal operating hours, any member could come relax, cool themselves and enjoy the resources that the library provides,” said Nancy Hu, HCPL design and communications specialist.

The National Weather Service website shows temperatures reached 101 degrees Fahrenheit at the Intercontinental Airport on July 23, which matched the previous record high set in 1980.

As conditions heat up for communities around Lake Houston, agencies are publicizing recommended methods of heat avoidance, as well as symptoms and appropriate treatments for heat-related ailments.

People should try to remain indoors during the hottest times of the day; completing outdoor tasks during cooler times in the morning or evening.

During periods of severe heat, air-conditioning and hydration are key elements to combat the potential harms of overheating. Elderly people have a higher risk of developing heat-related illness, according to HCHSES; however, anyone is susceptible.

A fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or above, fast heartbeat, dizziness and nausea are among the symptoms that the Center for Disease Control lists for heat stroke. In addition to calling 911, take steps to lower an affected person’s body temperature. One way in which this can be achieved is a cool bath. However, the CDC warns that the person should not drink any beverages.

A person suffering from heat exhaustion may experience symptoms including extreme sweating, fast heartbeat, nausea, cramps, lethargy, headache and dizziness. The CDC treatment recommendations include finding a cool location, making sure garments are not tight, and using cool wash cloths or a cool bath to lower body temperature. If symptoms get more severe or persist for more than an hour, the CDC urges people to seek medical attention.

Severe sweating while exercising and pain or muscle spasms can indicate a person is suffering from heat cramps. The CDC says to cease exercise and find a cool location; hydrate and avoid physical activity until the cramping stops.

The city of Houston issued a Heat Emergency Plan for July 23, which included opening cooling centers at Houston Public Library locations, multi-service and recreation centers, as well as offering free Metro bus rides to those locations. The Heat Emergency Plan is in effect when the heat index gets to 108 degrees. The city kept the cooling centers open July 24, but announced the Heat Emergency Plan was no longer in effect and the free Metro rides had been suspended.

Nonetheless, they continued educating the public about avoiding heat-related ailments, saying that the Houston Health Department warns that excessive sugar consumption, or drinking alcohol, can cause the body to lose fluid and should be avoided. They also recommend loose, light-color clothes.

The National Weather Service provides regular updates regarding climate and weather conditions at www.weather.gov/hgx/.

mfeuk@hcnonline.com

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