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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Dangerous Texas Heat That Poses Fainting Risk

Kevin Randal, a Houston-based construction worker, has his rituals.

Mr. Randal, 60, who repairs air conditioners, roofs, floors, and kitchens, spent his Saturday sweating it out in an attic, where the temperature was above 100 degrees, to fix an air conditioner.

He stops every 20 minutes to avoid becoming sick, and he drinks a mixture of lime juice, salt, and water to stay hydrated.

Mr. Randal warned that “if you don’t calculate time correctly, you will faint,” and that “the heat comes and goes, and the jobs come and go with it.”

However, the current heat wave seems to be here to stay.

An unprecedented heat wave that shows no signs of abating has brought people from all walks of life together in their shared pursuit of comfort and safety, with the poor and those without air conditioning feeling the brunt of the impact.

As Texas and the rest of the country continue to warm, the rising temperatures are drawing attention to the dangers that the state’s electricity infrastructure and inhabitants face.

From their base at Fire Station No. 1 in the rapidly expanding neighbourhood of Hutto, 30 miles north of Austin, Williamson County paramedics Liz Garner and Jona Becerra respond to a rising number of heat-related incidents.

Recently, Ms. Garner rushed a construction worker in his twenties into an ice bath after he had experienced a heat stroke, bringing his temperature down from 105. That day’s heat index reached 106 degrees.

The recent heat wave in Texas has gripped everyone in some manner. Those who work outside and the elderly are especially at risk. When Houston’s temperatures hit the 100-degree mark and the city’s notoriously oppressive humidity set in, the city’s sizable immigrant population reported a wide variety of difficulties.

Ms. Tobar, who is in her 50s, said, “We eat every day so we have to work every day.” You may quote me on that one: “If we don’t work, then we don’t have food.”

Temperatures have either broken or come close to breaking records. The hottest temperature ever recorded in San Angelo, Texas was set in June, when it reached 114 degrees twice. Del Rio, a border town, saw its first temperature of 115 degrees.

According to Dave Munyan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Midland, on Friday, a measurement of 119 degrees was taken in the Big Bend region of southwest Texas, coming within one degree of matching the state’s previous all-time high of 120 degrees recorded in 1994.

The National Weather Service predicted on Sunday that south-central Texas will be under heat advisories or perhaps extreme heat warnings every day this week.

Through the Fourth of July holiday, forecasters predict that the high heat and humidity will expand from Texas through the Southwest and the lower Mississippi River Valley.

Libraries and other public institutions around the state of Texas have opened as cooling stations for the homeless. Aid organisations have also ramped up their efforts. On a recent Saturday, Pete Barrera, outreach coordinator for Haven for Hope, a San Antonio organisation that helps the homeless, drove through the city’s downtown streets in a pickup truck full with supplies.

Texans seem to be largely following authorities’ recommendations to stay hydrated, reduce their time spent outside, schedule their work for the early morning or late afternoon, and use liberal amounts of sunscreen. When contacted at his San Antonio home last week, state representative Trey Martinez Fischer said he was waking up early and drinking plenty of water, but he was concerned about the effect on tourists at popular San Antonio landmarks like the Alamo and the River Walk.

Officers of the law may have to face additional difficulties in terms of personal ease. Hutto Police Department Sgt. Edward Mora was driving about town in his patrol SUV while carrying more than 20 pounds of protective gear in preparation for regular police calls and on the lookout for indicators of heat-related ailments.

Austin’s downtown Sixth Street club district had good business despite a temperature of 99 degrees at 7:45 p.m. on a Saturday, with some customers seeing the drop in temperature from the daytime as a blessing.

Many people were clad just in shorts and T-shirts, and some said that they were, to some extent, adjusting the recommendations of authorities to drink plenty of water. Austin real estate agent Angelica Nunez and her husband, chef Joseph Nunez, attended a bar and restaurant and said that they were “drinking a lot of water.” She said, “And beer, too.”

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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