Older men at greatest risk of heat stroke as Houston hits triple digit temps

Houstonians are pulling out all the stops to stay cool on a day when the heat index got as high as 117 degrees in parts of the area.

The City of Houston is also offering relief, opening more than 100 cooling centers for extended hours during what the city is calling a “heat emergency.” The city’s cooling centers are open until 7 p.m., and you can call 311 to get a free ride to one of them.

But if you’re like a lot of people, you had no choice but to brave the full force of the first triple digit day of the year.

“Cold water...and take a lot of breaks, and stay out of the sun,” said Gregory Bush, a handyman repairing a deck in Houston’s third ward.

He’s treading carefully in the afternoon heat, after having a close call with heat stroke a few months ago.


“Basically like having a heart attack—chest pains and a whole lot of lack of sweating,” said Bush. “My skin got dry versus being hot.”

“The symptoms of heat stroke—they’re concerning, because you’re going to have a rapid pulse,” said Scott Packard with the Houston Health Department. “You’re gonna stop sweating even though you’re really really hot. Your skin’s going to be hot to the touch, and you’re going to get really confused.”

Houston Health Dept. data shows 15 people died last year of heat stroke in Harris County. If you have the symptoms or see someone with the symptoms, call 911.

“When you have heat stroke, it’s not something you can just go inside and cool off, and I’ll be fine,” said Packard. “That’s not the way it works. It takes medical intervention.”

Bernardo Gonzalez/construction worker

“We working sometimes two hours and we take break—15 minutes,” said Bernardo Gonzalez, a construction worker working on a house on St. Emanuel Street," Bernardo Gonzalez, a construction worker, said.

He keeps a large cooler in the bed of his truck, loaded up with ice, water bottles, Gatorade and soda.

“Just we gotta work, and it’s hot, but we got family,” said Gonzalez.

According to the CDC, men age 35 and up are more likely than infants to have a heat related death, and men have more than triple the likelihood of dying of heat stroke compared to women. 

CDC data shows older men are by far the most vulnerable to the heat. Houston Health officials say this week is a good time to check on them and make sure they’re doing alright.