Hot Weather Safety
Adults 65 and older; children 4 years and younger; people with existing medical conditions, such as heart disease; and those without access to air conditioning are at higher risk on days with high temperatures and heat indexes.
Drinking plenty of water and protecting oneself from the sun are critical precautions. Additionally, people should call and check on their neighbors who may be at high risk and ensure access to heat relief and hydration.
Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are possible health effects. Warning signs of heat stroke include red, hot, and moist or dry skin; no sweating; a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse; nausea; or confusion or acting strangely. If a child exhibits any of these signs, cool the child rapidly with cool water (not an ice bath) and call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
Never leave children or pets alone in vehicles. If you see a child or pet locked in a hot car or in the back of a truck, take action immediately. Jot down the car’s description (including a license plate number). Call the Police Department immediately. If the situation involves a pet, call Animal Care Services at 311. Per city ordinance, both Police and Animal Care Officers have the right to break a car’s window if a child or animal is endangered inside a vehicle.
Getting and Staying Prepared
Getting ready for extreme heat and learning what to do during extreme heat is the best way to keep you, your family, and your pets safe. Click on each tab below to learn more about staying healthy during extreme heat.
before it gets hot
- Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes.
- Be aware of both the temperature and the heat index. The heat index is the temperature the body feels when the effects of heat and humidity are combined.
- Discuss heat safety precautions with members of your household. Have a plan for wherever you spend time— home, work, and school—and prepare for power outages.
- Check the contents of your emergency disaster kit in case a power outage occurs.
- Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.
- If you do not have air conditioning, choose places you could go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).
- Be aware that people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heatwave than are people living in rural areas.
- Get trained in First Aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.
- Ensure that your animals' needs for water and shade are met.
what to do during excessive heat
- Listen to the NOAA Weather Radio Station for critical updates from the National Weather Service (NWS).
- Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
- Eat small meals and eat more often.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
- Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
- Postpone outdoor games and activities.
- Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.
- Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.
- Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
- Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.
the signs of heat-related illness
- Signs: Muscle pains or spasms in the stomach, arms, or legs
- Actions: Go to a cooler location. Remove excess clothing. Take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. Get medical help if cramps last more than an hour.
- Signs: Heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, or fainting
- Actions: Go to an air-conditioned place and lie down. Loosen or remove clothing. Take a cool bath. Take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. Get medical help if symptoms get worse or last more than an hour.
- Signs: Extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees) taken orally; red, hot, and dry skin with no sweat; rapid, strong pulse; dizziness; confusion; or unconsciousness
- Actions: Call 911 or get the person to a hospital immediately. Cool down with whatever methods are available until medical help arrives.
ANIMAL CARE SERVICES
Violations of the City’s law governing animals left in vehicles could result in animal cruelty charges if the pet sustains injury or death as a result of the owner's actions. Animal Care Services is urging residents to use the greatest of caution with pets outdoors. Our South Texas heat can easily put your pet at risk for overheating since dogs cool their bodies by panting, which is less effective than sweating.
Hot Weather Tips for Pets
- Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot or humid outdoors.
- Making sure your pets have a shady place available all day to get out of the sun is legally required.
- Be careful not to over-exercise your pets, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.
- Know the symptoms of overheating in pets, which include:
- Excessive panting or difficulty breathing
- Increased heart and respiratory rate
- Mild weakness, stupor or even collapse
- Bloody diarrhea or vomiting
- An elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees
- If an animal does show signs of heat stress, gradually lower their body temperature and get them to a vet immediately.
- Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heatstroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.
- Other risk factors for pets to suffer from overheating include young, elderly, or overweight pets; those with a short muzzle; or those with thick or dark-colored coats.
- Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle, even with the window cracked or parked in the shade. It takes only ten minutes for the interior of a car to reach 102 degrees on an average 85-degree day and in thirty minutes, that temperature can reach 120 degrees or more.
- Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog: The layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. And be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.
- When the temperature is very high, don’t let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close to the ground, your pooch’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum.
Livestock Welfare During Excessive Heat
- Horses that are heat stressed may show signs of excessive sweating and reduced feed intake.
- Restrict exercising your horse to the early morning and late afternoon/evening when it is coolest. Electrolytes can be added to their feed to replace essential salts lost through sweating.
- Heat stressed horses can be cooled down by hosing with cool water, starting from the feet and moving up slowly, sponging with water or by placing wet towels over them.
- Excess water must be scraped off afterwards unless there is a good breeze, as water in the coat on a hot, humid, still day will act as an insulator and it will quickly warm up again.
Transporting Animals During the Heat
Transport of animals should be planned so that climatic extremes likely to compromise the animals' welfare are avoided.
If transport is absolutely necessary, the journey plan should minimize the effects of hot weather on the animals:
- Pre-determine your route.
- Mark out a map with places of shade and water availability (such as rest stops).
Animals should only be transported during the cooler hours of the day.
Stocking densities should be reduced to 85% of capacity to ensure good air flow between animals, and drivers should have contingency plans in place for the occurrence of adverse weather events.
Heat Stress Tolerance for Livestock
Animals at high risk of heat stress include:
- Young animals
- Dark colored animals
- Animals that have been sick or have a previous history of respiratory disease
Heat stress tolerances can also vary between and within a species, for example:
- Pigs become heat stressed at a lower temperature level and are very prone to sunburn.
- Sheep that are newly shorn are at risk of heat stress and sunburn due to lack of insulation from heat provided by wool.
- High producing dairy cows are more affected by extreme heat than lower producing cows.
- Lactating cattle are more susceptible than dry cows because of the additional metabolic heat generated during lactation.
- Beef cattle with black hair suffer more from direct solar radiation than those with lighter hair, although those with pink skin are at risk of sunburn.
- Holsteins are less tolerant than Jersey cows.
- British breeds of sheep and cattle are less tolerant than merino or tropical beef breeds.
- Heavy cattle over 450kg are more susceptible than lighter ones.
- Cattle, alpacas, and llamas are more prone to heat stress than sheep and goats.
These types of animals should be watched more closely for signs of heat stress during days of high temperature.
Learn more about protecting farm animals in extreme heat.