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Cities open cooling centers, urge Texans to heed safety warnings amid ongoing heat wave

An inflatable pool float depicting a sloth floats in the sun in a swimming pool in Austin, TX during summer heat on Jul. 6, 2022
Gabriel C. Pérez
An inflatable pool float depicting a sloth floats in an Austin swimming pool during the summer heat on July 6.

Texans are battling a near-record heatwave this week. To help fend off the potential ill effects of high temperatures, they're being urged to listen to warnings from local officials and take advantage of municipally operated cooling stations.

Temperatures across most of Texas are expected to peak in the triple digits this week while some areas, including Austin and San Antonio, are under “excessive heat warnings" with temperatures reaching or exceeding 105 degrees Monday and Tuesday.

Around Dallas and El Paso, residents are also facing triple-digit highs for most of the week. Highs in Laredo and the McAllen could hit 109 and 104 degrees, respectively.

The weather — and the accompanying demand for energy — led the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, to urge most of the state to conserve energy between 2 pm and 8 pm Monday, KUT reported. That includes increasing thermostat temperatures to at least 78 degrees and not using large appliances like washers and driers during peak times.

“ERCOT continues to use all tools available to manage the grid effectively and reliably, including using reserve power and calling upon large electric customers who have volunteered to lower their energy use," the grid operator said in a news release Sunday night.

In response to the weather, the City of San Antonio is operating dozens of cooling centers at various libraries, parks and recreation buildings, and senior centers the city’s office of emergency management announced this week.

“Adults over 65, children under 4, and people with existing medical conditions such as heart disease and those without access to air conditioning are at highest risk on days with high temperatures,” the advisory states.

The City of Dallas is also operating about 15 cooling centers throughout the city. Austin continues operating its cooling centers after opening them last weekend.

Rodrigo Mosquera, a construction worker in Austin, found a brief respite from the weather at the Ruiz Branch library Monday but said the current heatwave has made him reconsider how he earns a living.

“I’m thinking of just getting to either sales or someplace where … I work inside a cool environment,” Mosquera, 61, told KUT. “Because in this heat, physical abilities are not working too well.”