Twelve Tarrant County residents have died from heat-related illnesses so far this summer — a jump from the five deaths previously reported last month.
Two of the people who died from heat-related illnesses had their air conditioning turned off; three others had no working AC. The other two died while working outside. All seven residents were between the ages of 66-78.
By the end of the summer in 2022, there were 14 deaths caused by heat-related illnesses – the highest number recorded in Tarrant County in a decade.
Now, as the death toll climbs, health experts are advising residents to stay cool and inside as Tarrant County expects to suffer high temperatures of 105 to 110 this week, according to the National Weather Service.
For residents without adequate air conditioning, Tarrant Cares provides a map with open cooling centers across the county. The list includes community centers, public libraries and recreational centers in Arlington, Burleson, Fort Worth, Haltom City and more.
Residents can go to any of these locations to receive water and refresh themselves during the facilities’ usual hours of operation, Sheri Endsley, district superintendent with the city of Fort Worth, said.
For older residents without transportation, Fort Worth community centers partner with Meals on Wheels to provide rides to and from cooling centers. Community centers with Best Years Club provide transportation as well.
Despite the rising temperatures, not a lot of residents have taken advantage of the cooling centers, Endsley said.
“The usage has not increased, it’s been pretty consistent,” she said. “A few people come regularly. Some centers don’t have any people at all, while others have five to 10. We hope it goes up.”
In 2022, United Way of Tarrant County launched its Beat the Heat campaign, which takes AC unit donations to help older adults and disabled residents keep cool during the heat. Donated units can be dropped off at the United Way of Tarrant County in Fort Worth and Arlington, GRACE Donation Station in Grapevine and Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce. The collection drive will continue through Sept. 30.
Tarrant County residents needing help to stay cool this summer can contact these help lines:
- 2-1-1 Texas: a free, anonymous social service hotline available 24 hours a day.
- 1-888-730-ADRC (2372): The Aging and Disability Resource Center assists those 60-plus or adults with a disability find utility bill assistance and learn if they qualify for a free AC unit.
- 1-844-4TX-VETS (844-489-8387): Active-duty military veterans and their families can call the Texas Veterans Network for assistance with getting a free AC unit or help with a utility bill.
Here a few other things to focus on to stay safe through the rest of August:
- Stay hydrated: drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially if you’re working outside. Low-calorie and no-sugar sports drinks are good alternatives as well.
- Stay inside: avoid outdoor activities during the middle of the day. The hottest time can be anywhere between noon and 7 p.m.
- Wear the proper attire: wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing during the heat. Light-colored clothing won’t absorb as much heat as darker-colored clothing. Hats are also recommended, but if you start to feel hot, remove it to let your body cool down.
- Apply sunscreen: It is recommended that you wear sunscreen on any part of your body exposed to the sun. SPF 30 is recommended for most people. If you have special skin conditions, contact your dermatologists, who may suggest a higher SPF sunscreen.
- Keep AC on inside vehicles: If your car does not have air conditioning, roll down your windows.
For more information on how to stay cool and conserve energy, check out additional reporting by the Fort Worth Report.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Aug. 22 to clarify the total heat-related death toll is 12.
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