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Tarrant County heat death toll climbs to 5: Experts share tips on staying safe, cool

 A person stands outside a stand selling ice.
Sandra Sadek
Fort Worth Report
A woman stands in the shade of an ice house July 25. Consecutive 100 degree days have caused an increase in heat-related illnesses.

Five Tarrant County residents have died from heat-related illnesses in July so far. Now, health experts are urging caution, especially when working out in the sun.

From May 1 to July 19, MedStar crews have treated 427 patients for heat-related illnesses, and transported 313 of those patients to a hospital. The oldest patient treated was 90 years old; the youngest was a 1-year-old.

Two of the people who died from heat-related illness in July had no working air conditioning; the other two died while working outside. The fifth death was reported Sunday on the medical examiner’s website, and details aren’t yet available on the circumstances surrounding it.

In 2022, there were nine reported heat-related deaths from May 1 to July 29. In all, there were 14 deaths last summer that were officially determined to have been caused by heat-related illness, the highest number recorded in Tarrant County in a decade. MedStar crews also reported more heat-related illness calls in the same timeframe in 2022.

To avoid needing emergency assistance, MedStar says, people should focus on the following:

  • Hydration: Drink lots of water throughout the day, especially if you’re working. Sports drinks are also a good option for staying hydrated while working. 
  • Ventilation: Stay in an area with plenty of air circulation. If you don’t have air conditioning in your home, open your windows and use a fan to help with air circulation. 
  • Covering up: Make sure you wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing during the summer heat. Light-colored clothing won’t absorb the heat as much as darker-colored clothing. You can also wear a hat to shield yourself from the sun, but if you start feeling hot, remove it to let your body cool.  
  • Limiting activity: It can take less than an hour to get heatstroke while working in the heat. Be sure to stay hydrated, and stop work if you start feeling overheated or light-headed. 
  • Checking on loved ones: Call elderly family members and friends on hot days. Older residents are especially susceptible to heat-related illnesses. 

Tarrant Cares has put together a map showing open cooling centers across the county. Fort Worth has opened three cooling centers across the city this summer.

  • Como Community Center, 4600 Horne St.
  • Northside Community Center, 1800 NW 18th St.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, 5565 Truman Drive

In addition, the city’s other public buildings, like libraries and recreation centers, will remain open during their usual hours of operation. Residents can go there for a cool place to rest.

Days with over 100 degree highs will continue through July, according to the National Weather Service. For more information on how to stay cool, and conserve energy, check out additional reporting by the Fort Worth Report.