Tips, resources to stay cool during Central Texas summer heat

The city of Austin is offering tips and resources for residents to stay cool and safe ahead of summer temperatures.

Temperatures in Central Texas can hit the triple digits, sometimes for many days in a row.

Heat Safety

New Austinites may not be familiar with the hot and humid weather in Central Texas from June through September, so here are some things to know.

Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke 

Extreme heat without precautions can lead to heat disorders like heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Recognizing the signs, knowing the difference between the two and how to respond can save lives.

What are the symptoms of heat exhaustion?

  • Cool, pale, clammy skin
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Heavy sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fast, weak pulse  

What do I do when someone is experiencing heat exhaustion?

  • Move victim to a cooler area immediately
  • Loosen clothing
  • Sip cool water slowly

If symptoms do not improve, last longer than an hour, or the victim begins vomiting, residents should seek medical help. Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke within minutes.

What are the symptoms of heat stroke?

  • Hot, red, dry or damp skin
  • Rapid and strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Confusion
  • Nausea or dizziness
  • Body temperature above 103 F.
  • Lethargy or loss of consciousness  

What do I do when someone is experiencing symptoms of heat stroke?

Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency and can cause death or permanent damage if emergency treatment is not given promptly.  

If you or someone you are with experiences symptoms of heat stroke:

  • Move the victim to a cooler area, preferably air-conditioned
  • Reduce their body temperature with cool cloths or bath
  • Call 9-1-1

Do NOT give fluids or anything by mouth to a person experiencing heat stroke.  

Heat-related illnesses can progress into heat stroke within minutes. If you or someone you’re with shows signs of heat-related illness, begin cooling measures immediately.

What else should I do if I'm going outside during the summer?

  • Make sure you are prepared for the heat before you go outdoors
  • Pre-hydrate before going into the heat
  • Plan ahead and dress appropriately for sun and heat
  • Apply sunscreen before sun exposure and reapply frequently
  • Learn the signs of heat-related illness and be ready to take action if needed
  • Always know where you are. If you’re going to a greenbelt, or to the lake, download the what3words app (available on Apple and Google Play) so first responders can find you quickly if you need help.

Working Outdoors 

Residents are advised to avoid high-energy activities, working outdoors during midday heat or peak sun hours if possible, or indoors without air conditioning. 

When working outdoors, you should have plenty of fluids handy and a shady spot nearby to cool off or take breaks. 

The City of Austin also has a Rest Break Ordinance, which entitles all employees performing construction activities at a construction site to a rest break of no less than 10 minutes for every four hours worked.

Pet Safety 

Remember that your pets are also susceptible to heat. Pet owners should have plenty of cool water and accessible shade available for their pets.

Asphalt and dark pavement can be very hot on pet’s feet, which can burn or blister on hot pavement.

The Humane Society of the United States also has tips and resources to protect your pet from the heat.

What are the signs of heatstroke in animals?

  • Heavy panting or difficulty breathing
  • Glazed eyes
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Excessive thirst
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Dizziness and lack of coordination
  • Profuse salivation
  • Vomiting
  • Deep red or purple tongue
  • Seizure
  • Unconsciousness

How do I treat a pet suffering from heatstroke?

  • Move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area
  • Cool them with ice packs or cold towels to their head, neck and chest or run cool (not cold) water over them
  • Let them drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes
  • Take them directly to a veterinarian

Car Safety 

Never leave people or pets unattended in a closed car on a warm day. 

Temperatures in vehicles climb much faster and can reach dangerous temperatures in only a few minutes. On an 80-degree day outside, temperatures inside a vehicle can reach 94 degrees in two minutes and more than 120 degrees in less than an hour, says the city.

Cracking the windows open does not significantly reduce how high the temperature inside the vehicle can reach.  

Heat stroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle-related deaths in children. Drivers should check for children, pets, and adults in the back seat before leaving the vehicle. 

If you see someone locked in a hot car, take action and call 9-1-1 immediately. It can save a life.

Cooling Centers 

City facilities, including libraries and recreation centers, can be used as cooling senters, a temporary respite from the heat, during normal operating hours. Service animals are allowed in City-facilities.  

Mosquito Protection

Summer heat also brings an increase in mosquitoes, which may harbor several diseases that contribute to outbreaks of Zika, West Nile, dengue fever, encephalitis and canine heartworm. 

Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself from mosquitoes:

  • Drain standing water. Mosquitoes grow in standing water and breed quickly – in just a few days, they can lay hundreds of eggs. Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover or throw out containers that hold water.
  • Protect yourself by applying insect repellent. Use EPA-registered insect repellents with one of these active ingredients: DEET, Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US), IR3535, Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), Para-menthane-diol (PMD), and 2-undecanone.
  • Wear protective clothing, like long pants and long sleeves, when you’re outside, especially in places with high mosquito activity.  

To report a mosquito problem, call 3-1-1 or complete a Service Request online.

Summer water conservation

Most of Texas, including the Central Texas region, is experiencing serious drought conditions. 

Record high temperatures and low rainfall have taken a toll on the Lower Colorado River Basin and Lakes Travis and Buchanan. 

Austin Water is currently under Stage 1 watering restrictions. Residents can protect their lakes, the environment, and their future water supply by watering only one day a week with automatic sprinklers and a second day, if need be, with hoses. Find your watering days and times here.

Summer energy use

Austinites are encouraged to prepare for emergencies or extreme weather at home. When temperatures rise, your air conditioner use will likely increase as well, meaning higher electricity bills.

Here are some tips to help monitor your electricity use:

  • Set your thermostat at 78 degrees or higher in the warm months of the year.  
  • Install LED light bulbs, which use less electricity, generate less heat and last longer.
  • Point fans in your direction. Fans blowing directly on you can make temperatures around you feel about 4 degrees cooler. Only keep fans on when you are in the room.
  • Close shades/curtains on windows hit by direct sunlight. This helps to prevent heat from getting indoors.
  • Avoid turning on the oven during the hottest time of the day. Using a microwave or a slow cooker produces less heat.
  • Unplug appliances, chargers, and electronic devices when you are not using them. They use energy even when they are turned off. Turn off your lights when you leave a room.

For more information on how to save energy during hot weather, power outages and how to save energy and water during the summer, click here

Residents can also sign up for Austin Energy’s Outage Alerts to send and receive text notifications about power outages by texting REGISTER to 287846.

Track your local forecast for the Austin area quickly with the free FOX 7 WAPP. The design gives you radar, hourly, and 7-day weather information just by scrolling. Our weather alerts will warn you early and help you stay safe during storms.