Reminders about how to stay safe in the Texas heat

By: Taylor Kaluza

Multimedia Journalist

Living in Texas in the summer can result in extreme temperatures, reaching over 100 degrees for weeks at a time. Extreme heat can lead to power outages, heat-related illnesses and even death.

In an article by USA Today, since 1999 at least 1,400 people have died per year due to heat-related causes. While you think that summer may be the best time of the year, it may be one of the deadliest so it is important to be able to recognize signs of heat-related illnesses and know how to stay cool. These illnesses vary from mild illnesses like heat rashes and heat cramps, to more severe illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Anyone that spends an extended amount of time outside is at risk, but according to Cleveland Clinic, those who are dehydrated while in the heat, take certain medication, have medical issues or who have had a history of heat-related illnesses are more at risk.

Not only is it important to know who is at risk, but also how to recognize any of these illnesses.

Small red bumps are an indicator of heat rash. Photo courtesy of

Heat rash can be recognized by red skin, a tingling pain, small bumps and blisters. If you think that you or someone else may have a heat rash, get somewhere that is cool and apply a cold compress to the area to alleviate the symptoms. If the symptoms continue to worsen, visit your doctor.

Heat cramps are characterized by muscle pain or spasms and cool skin. What you can do to help with the pain is drink plenty of water and rest.

One of the more severe types of illnesses is heat exhaustion. This can be recognized by multiple symptoms, including shallow breathing, muscle cramps, heavy sweating, elevated body temperature, nausea, vomiting and headaches. If you are experiencing these symptoms, get to a shaded area, drink small amounts of water and use a cold cloth, then go to a hospital or call 911.

The most severe is heat stroke, in which the person has a strong pulse, dizziness, slurred speech, nausea, a temperature over 105 and seizures. It is important to know that they do not sweat even with the heat. Call emergency services as soon as possible to get the person treatment and spray them with cool water and remove clothing to help with the symptoms.

This chart outlines some of the differences between heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Photo courtesy of

Not only is it important to keep yourself healthy outside but protect yourself and your pets from the heat and stay safe.

Children love to spend time outside during the summer, whether it be at the pool swimming or playing on the playground. While these are great activities to keep kids entertained, they can sometimes be dangerous.

Always remember to apply sunscreen as directed to prevent sunburns and always keep an eye out if they are in the water.

When letting kids play on a playground, it is encouraged to check the playground equipment. If it is a hot day, the plastic on the playground or a metal slide will heat up quickly and can burn a child instantly. While they may not be severe burns, it is always good to check and make sure your child can comfortably play on the equipment.

In an article by RevereHealth about summer safety tips stated, “Playground slides, for example, have been reported to reach temperatures exceeding 160 degrees.”

Reminders about how hot the car can get.
Photo courtesy of ASPCA.

Your pets can be affected by the heat just as easily as you can. Pets can suffer from heat-related illnesses if not given shade or enough water to keep them hydrated. It is also important to limit exercise during hot weather so that they do not suffer from a heat stroke.

Remember to not leave pets or children in the car on a hot day because the temperature inside a car can skyrocket.

According to the ASPCA,”On an 85-degree day, interior temperatures can climb over 100 degrees in only ten minutes and can jump to 120 degrees in half an hour. Even in cooler weather, the inside of a car may be as much as 20 degrees hotter than the outdoors—easily reaching 90 degrees on a 70-degree day. A shady parking spot, bowl of water or even an open window are insufficient measures to counteract the deadly effects of these temperatures.”

Be aware of the temperature outside and how it increases depending on the surface in order to keep your pets safe.
Photo courtesy of

Another way to protect your pets when taking them out on walks is to test how hot the ground they walk on is.

Experts recommend putting your hand on the ground and if it is not comfortable enough to leave your hand on, then it isn’t safe to let your dog walk on.

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