Triple-Digit Heat In North Texas Has Arrived. Here's How To Stay Cool | KERA News

Triple-Digit Heat In North Texas Has Arrived. Here's How To Stay Cool

Jun 28, 2018

Like last year, triple digits arrived ahead of schedule in North Texas.

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (the location used by the National Weather Service in Fort Worth to gauge temperatures for the region) first reached 100 degrees last Friday; the high for the day was 101. 

Typically, the first 100-degree day doesn’t hit until July 1, but North Texas could see triple-digit temperatures all weekend, per the latest forecast.

Stay hydrated and indoors

Since mid-May, 174 people in Dallas County alone have been hospitalized for heat-related illnesses, according to the latest report. You can avoid the health risks by doing the following:

  • Drink plenty of water. You should try to replace the amount of water you lose during the day. On a typical day, that’s about 80 ounces, according to this local doctor. But you sweat more as temperatures rise, so make sure to hydrate accordingly. And cut down on caffeine.
  • Dress for the heat. Wear clothes that are loose-fitting, light-colored and lightweight. Your clothes should cover your skin as much as possible. And avoid dark clothes — they absorb heat.
  • Limit your time in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is the warmest part of the day. Save any outdoor activities or chores, like mowing the lawn or jogging, for the morning or evening. Spend the warmest part of the day indoors.
  • Help the elderly, kids and pets stay cool. Seniors are especially vulnerable to the heat. That’s why The Senior Source is raising money to purchase and install air conditioning units for older adults in the Dallas area. Last year, they provided units for 78 seniors. Also, never leave pets, children or anyone else inside a hot vehicle.

Find even more tips from Dallas County Health and Human Services and the National Weather Service.

Heatstroke versus heat exhaustion

Heatstroke and heat exhaustion are both heat-related illnesses. However, heatstroke is life-threatening while heat exhaustion is a less severe condition.

“If you look at normal temperature and heatstroke as the two ends of that spectrum, heat exhaustion is kind of in the middle,” Dr. Alexander Eastman, a medical director of Parkland Hospital’s Trauma Center, told KERA.

Eastman says the signs of heat-related illness may be subtle, and the best thing to do is listen to your body.

"If you are thirsty, if you’re lightheaded, if you feel bad, you feel like ‘Hey, the heat’s starting to get to me,’ then it is," he said. "That’s the time where you need to sit down, get into a cool place, get some water into you and try to recover a little bit before you resume your activity."

Symptoms of heatstroke

  • High body temperature: A body temperature of 104 degrees or higher is the main sign of heatstroke.
  • Altered mental state or behavior: Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures and coma can all result from heatstroke.
  • Alteration in sweating: In heatstroke brought on by hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. However, in heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise, your skin may feel moist.
  • Nausea and vomiting: You may feel sick to your stomach or vomit.
  • Flushed skin: Your skin may turn red as your body temperature increases.
  • Rapid breathing: Your breathing may become rapid and shallow.
  • Racing heart rate: Your pulse may significantly increase because heat stress places a tremendous burden on your heart to help cool your body.
  • Headache: Your head may throb.

Beat the heat at home

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) says it expects record-breaking electricity usage this summer. You can still save power and keep yourself cool this summer with the following advice:

  • Weather-strip doors and windows. The U.S. Department of Energy has a detailed breakdown of various types of weatherstripping.
  • Close the blinds during the day. Keep the direct sun at bay with closed blinds or curtains.
  • Turn off appliances. The biggest heat producers are lights. Turn them off if you aren’t using them. And keep in mind other appliances, like your oven, microwave, television and dishwasher give off heat as well. Unplugging will help keep the house cool, and save you energy.
  • You can also use window reflectors to reflect heat back outside. According to the Department of Energy, about 76 percent of sunlight that falls on standard double-pane windows enters to become heat. Learn more about various types of window coverings.

KERA's Krystina Martinez and Sam Baker contributed to this report.