Houston's Heat Wave Leaves Even More People at Risk [UPDATED]

Younger residents and newcomers have to be just as careful in the rising summer temperatures as older people.
Younger residents and newcomers have to be just as careful in the rising summer temperatures as older people.

Update 3:20 p.m.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas issued a “Weather Watch” on Wednesday for Thursday through next Wednesday because of the unusually high triple digit temperatures on the forecast.

This alert notifies residents that increases in the demand on the grid will go up because of the hotter weather.

ERCOT has projected a possibility that the record for earliest peak demand – which occurred last year on Wednesday, July 20 – could break due to the extreme heat; however, they say they expect the grid to keep residents’ power intact.

The National Weather Service placed much of Southeast and Central Texas under a heat advisory that will last into the end of the week and during the weekend. Temperatures are expected to heat within the low 100s on Thursday and remain within that range until next Wednesday.

The heat index indicated the “feels like” temperatures would be even higher, above 105 degrees, due to the mixture of heat and moisture.

Original Story:

During warmer months, public health officials often ask for community members to keep an extra eye on fellow residents who are older than 65 and are considered one of the more vulnerable populations in extreme heat.

However, this attention may need to be expanded to two groups that have similar susceptibility to warmer weather: new Houstonians and younger residents, said Dr. David Persse, the City of Houston’s Chief Medical Officer.

“People may not expect it, but it is not uncommon for us to see the more critically ill patients early in the summer – whether it be a person exercising or working outdoors – tend to be younger, healthier, people who, under whatever circumstances, sometimes it’s their own bravado, think they can handle the heat,” Persse said.

Those who may have recently moved to the Greater-Houston area may be unaware of how high temperatures can climb, especially into the mid-to-late afternoon hours. This week alone there are several triple-digit days in the forecast and heat index, despite it being seasonably early for these highs, which usually come in July.

“A really simple and easy adjustment that makes a difference whether you are walking your dog, gardening or exercising, is starting this activity a little earlier in the day, taking a longer break midday so you can get out of the heat and then work later into the evening,” Persse said.

Persse said employers of workers outside should re-adjust their schedules accordingly too and typically do as they are accustomed to mitigating health risks to their employees amid these heat waves.

Potential concerns from spending too much time in warmer weather include dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke – the most severe.

Muscle cramps are one of the first signs that the high temperatures may be taking a toll on the body, if people do not stop what they are doing to hydrate, they risk heat exhaustion.

“It’s just this sensation where you feel exhausted, you are hot, sweating and just tired,” Persse said. “That is a big red flag that you need to stop what you’re doing and get some air conditioning or liquids in your system.”

When heat exhaustion is not addressed, it can then lead the body into heat stroke – which occurs when the body fails in its ability to cool itself.

According to Persse, the telltale signs of someone suffering from this is if their skin is hot and dry, they’ve stopped sweating, or they appear to be confused.

“This is when your friend, spouse, co-worker or whoever it is that is with you needs to recognize that you are starting to act a little bit goofy and they need to call 911; that is a true life-threatening situation,” he said.

If a person is alone, but still coherent enough to feel the symptoms of heat exhaustion coming, Persse said they should always call 911, try to remain on the line and flag someone down – if on a trail or near-by – for assistance.

When people are disoriented and they are alone or lack assistance, they could easily be unable to help themselves. Heat stroke causes brain damage and often can result in death, Persse said.

To avoid this, people need to adequately hydrate, reduce outdoor activity and wear light, loose-fitting clothing.

Persse said Houstonians should avoid caffeine, alcohol, sugary drinks and foods – as they are natural dehydrants and individuals may not know that they need to overcompensate with their water consumption.

There are also city and county resources that are offered to residents to keep them safe during these high temperatures.

This includes an on-going partnership between both Houston and Harris County Precinct 2 and Reliant Energy to open 22 “Beat the Heat” centers in the area located in libraries, community and multi-service centers.

Porfirio Villarreal, city of Houston public information officer, said people are able to stop by and step away from the heat if they do not have access to air-conditioning in their houses or do not want to run it due to the high cost of energy bills.

To help with the costs, Reliant and other companies or social service organizations provide relief funding to cover electricity for some households. Residents who may want to request this financial assistance can be connected with potential options if they call 211 or visit

For older populations specifically, the city distributed 350 portable AC units on a first-come, first-serve and by-need basis for those who may be unable to come out to the cooling centers, Villarreal said.

“If you have a good relationship with your older neighbors down the street, try to take them out for dinner in the AC or to the movies, anywhere to give them that slight break,” Persse said.

City multi-service centers and libraries involved are:

Multi-Service Centers:

Acres Homes Multi-Service Center
6719 W. Montgomery Rd.
Houston, Texas 77091-3105

Alief Neighborhood Center
11903 Bellaire Blvd.
Houston, Texas 77072-2310

Denver Harbor Multi-Service Center
6402 Market St.
Houston, Texas 77020-6840

Fifth Ward Multi-Service Center
4014 Market St.
Houston, Texas 77020-4129

Hiram Clarke Multi-Service Center
3810 W. Fuqua St.
Houston, Texas 77045-6402

Kashmere Multi-Service Center
4802 Lockwood Dr.
Houston, Texas 77026-2941

Magnolia Multi-Service Center
7037 Capitol St.
Houston, Texas 77011-4643

Northeast Multi-Service Center
9720 Spaulding St.
Houston, Texas 77016-4841

Southwest Multi-Service Center
6400 High Star Dr.
Houston, Texas 77074-5006

Sunnyside Health and Multi-Service Center
4410 Reed Road
Houston, Texas 77051-2718

Third Ward Multi-Service Center
3611 Ennis St.
Houston, Texas 77004-4407

West End Multi-Service Center
170 Heights Blvd.
Houston, Texas 77020-3729


Acres Homes Library
8501 West Montgomery
Houston, TX 77088

Alief Regional Library
11903 Bellaire Blvd.
Houston, TX 77072

Blue Ridge Library
7007 West Fugua
Houston, TX 77489

Bracewell Library
9002 Kingspoint Dr.
Houston, TX 77075

Carnegie Library
1050 Quitman
Houston, TX 77009

Central Library
500 McKinney
Houston, TX 77002

Clayton Library
5300 Caroline
Houston, TX 77004

Collier Regional Library
6200 Pinemont
Houston, TX 77092

Flores Library
110 North Milby
Houston, TX 77003

Frank Express Library
10103 Fondren (inside Brays Oaks Towers)
Houston, TX 77096

Gregory Library
1300 Victor
Houston, TX 77019

Heights Library
1302 Heights Blvd.
Houston, TX 77008

Hillendahl Library
2436 Gessner
Houston, TX 77080

HMRC Library
550 McKinney
Houston, TX 77002

Johnson Library
3517 Reed Rd
Houston, TX 77051

Jungman Library
5830 Westheimer
Houston, TX 77057

Kashmere Gardens Library
5411 Pardee
Houston, TX 77026

Looscan Library
2510 Willowick
Houston, TX 77028

Mancuso Library
6767 Bellfort
Houston, TX 77087

Melcher Library
7200 Keller
Houston, TX 77012

Montrose Library
4100 Montrose
Houston, TX 77006

Moody Library
9525 Irvington
Houston, TX 77076

Oak Forest Library
1349 West 43rd
Houston, TX 77018

Park Place Regional Library
8145 Park Place
Houston, TX 77017

Pleasantville Library
1520 Gelhorn
Houston, TX 77029

Ring Library
8835 Long Point
Houston, TX 77055

Robinson-Westchase Library
3223 Wilcrest
Houston, TX 77042

Scenic Woods Regional Library
10677 Homestead Rd.
Houston, TX 77016

Smith Library
3624 Scott
Houston, TX 77004

Southwest Express Library
6400 High Star
Houston, TX 77074

Stanaker Library
611 S. Sgt Macario Garcia
Houston, TX 77011

Stella Link Regional Library
7405 Stella Link
Houston, TX 77025

TECHLink Dixon Library
8002 Hirsch
Houston, TX 77016

Tuttle Library
702 Kress
Houston, TX 77020

Vinson Library
3810 West Fuqua
Houston, TX 77045

Walter Library
7660 Clarewood
Houston, TX 77036

Young Library
5107 Griggs Rd
Houston, TX 77021