Landscaper Salvador Rosales handed out water and Gatorade to his workers pulling weeds and moving dirt outside of Fort Worth City Hall, ensuring they are hydrated on an already-hot summer morning.
Inside City Hall, officials wanted to ensure residents were preparing for the heat, too.
During a June 22 news conference, officials discussed plans to open cooling shelters for residents and homeless, what precautions Fort Worthians can take for their families and how the municipal government responds when the state’s electric grid operator asks for voluntarily reduced energy consumption.
Rosales didn’t need to hear from officials to know what the season has in store for Texas.
“I know this is going to be one of the hottest summers ever,” Rosales said.
National Weather Service forecasts show Fort Worth facing 100-degree temperatures for at least eight days starting June 24.
Keeping yourself, kids and pets safe in this heat
Since June began, MedStar has responded to 118 patients who were in a heat-related health emergency and 71 of them were sick enough to go to the hospital, said Matt Zavadsky, an official for the emergency medical services company.
“The thermometer only tells one part of the story,” Zavadsky said, emphasizing that the heat index, a combination of temperature and humidity, is causing most of these cases.
He encouraged people not to go outside. If you really need to, pre-hydrate before heading out. For example, Zavadsky advised if you plan to spend Saturday outside, drink more water on Thursday and Friday.
Signs and symptoms of heat–related injury
- Profuse sweating
- Muscle cramps
Two of the cases MedStar has seen were of a child left in a hot car.
Texas leads the nation in kids in hot car deaths, said Richard Harrison, battalion chief of the Fort Worth Fire Department.
Harrison reminded newer parents to turn on a child reminder on navigation apps like Waze, so it will remind them that someone is in the backseat when they arrive at a location.
Children may also accidentally lock themselves into a car, Harrison said. Parents should always lock their cars whenever someone is not in the vehicle, even if it sits in a garage, he said.
Code compliance official Chris Lirette emphasized Fort Worth is placing an importance on keeping families cool and safe this summer — including family pets.
“Just don’t leave your pet in the car,” Lirette said.
If it’s 100 degrees outside, the vehicle could be anywhere from 120 to 140 degrees inside, he said.
Lirette advised pets need to have a lot of water if outside, and while residents walk a dog to step on grass or shade because asphalt will be too hot for the sensitive pads on their paws.
Robert Medford, Fort Worth’s emergency management director, has consistently reminded residents that the city’s public buildings will continue to be open during normal business hours for people to seek refuge from the heat.
City Hall, libraries and police departments throughout the city can be used as air-conditioned spaces for the public.
“Should we have a widespread, long-term power outage, we have plans in place for that,” Medford said. “Should the need arise, we’ll notify the public of those locations.”
Homeless shelters alongside East Lancaster, which provide refuge from the heat for the homeless community, will continue to address that need, said Scott Daniels, an official for the city’s neighborhood services department. Many, like WhenWeLove and Salvation Army, will have water and ice stations open starting this weekend.
Union Gospel Mission and True Worth Place will also begin handing out water daily, Daniels said.
The city’s community centers have partnered with Reliant Energy to keep those spaces cool this summer as part of the centers’ “Beat the Heat” campaign, Daniels said.
Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, Como Community Center and Northside Community Center, will be spaces for people who just want to come inside and stay away from the hot temperatures, Daniels said.
ERCOT asks for voluntary energy reduction
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas on June 20 asked Texans to reduce power use. ERCOT broke the peak demand record for June.
How to reduce power use:
- Set air conditioning unit to 72 to 78 degrees
- Close house blinds to keep cool air in
- Turn off lights when not in use
- Unplug small appliances when not in use
- Unplug electronics when not in use
Juanita Rigsby, an energy manager for the city, said city staff is taking action to conserve energy, and hopes Fort Worth residents do too.
“We’re making sure we’re tracking our building usage, making sure we’re looking for opportunities of improvement to our energy use so we can continue to reduce energy demand,” Rigsby said.
She encouraged residents to do the same at home.
Rigsby recommended using ceiling fans to reduce energy demand from air conditioning units; close house blinds to keep cool air in; turn lights off when not in use; and to unplug small appliances and electronics.
And get ready: The forecast for Sunday is 107 degrees. By next Thursday, the thermometer could hit 111.
Matthew Sgroi is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.