City of Houston facilities serve as cooling centers this weekend

City of Houston libraries will serve as cooling centers Saturday, August 19, and two multi-service centers and a community center on Sunday, August 20, for Houstonians needing to take refuge from the heat.

Houston libraries and multi-service centers will function as cooling centers during normal business hours on weekdays and Saturdays. The Central Library downtown is unavailable as a cooling center.

The following locations will open from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, August 20:

Community centers operated by the Houston Parks and Recreation Department will open to the public after the conclusion of daily programming for enrolled participants.

The YMCA of Greater Houston will open its locations over the weekend for people needing to seek relief.
The National Weather Service predicts heat index values will reach as high as 109 through Sunday.

The City of Houston activates its Public Health Heat Emergency Plan when the Houston area begins to experience excessive heat. It activates the plan when a heat advisory or an excessive heat warning is expected to last two or more consecutive days.

People without adequate transportation to a designated cooling center can call 3-1-1 to request a free ride. Transportation is only to and from the cooling centers; transportation to other locations is unavailable.

The Houston Health Department recommends the precautions below to avoid heat-related illness such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

  • Drink more water. Drink lots of liquids even before getting thirsty, but avoid beverages with caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar because these can result in the loss of body fluid.
  • Conduct outdoor work or exercise in the early morning or evening when temperatures are not as high. Outdoor workers should drink plenty of water or electrolyte replacement beverages and take frequent breaks in the shade or in an air-conditioned facility. People unaccustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment need to start slowly and gradually increase heat exposure over several weeks.
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that permits the evaporation of perspiration.
  • Do not leave infants, children, senior citizens, or pets unattended in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are cracked open. Check to make sure everyone is out of the car and don’t overlook children who may have fallen asleep.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat to help prevent sunburn as well as heat-related illness. Apply sunscreen, which protects from the sun’s harmful rays and reduces the risk of sunburn.
  • Seek accommodations in air-conditioned facilities during the heat of the day if the house is not air-conditioned: a relative’s home, multi-service centers, malls, movie theaters, libraries, etc.
  • Take frequent cool baths or showers if your home is not air-conditioned.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include weakness, dizziness, excessive sweating, cool or moist skin, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, and a fast and weak pulse. People experiencing these symptoms should lower their body temperature by getting to a cooler place, drinking water, taking a cool shower or bath and resting.

A throbbing headache, red, hot, and dry skin (no longer sweating), extremely high body temperature (above 103°), nausea or vomiting, confusion, loss of consciousness and a rapid, strong pulse are signs of heat stroke. If these symptoms occur, call 9-1-1 immediately and try to lower the person’s body temperature until help arrives.

People may seek air-conditioning in city multi-service centers, libraries and recreation centers, even when the Public Health Heat Emergency Plan is not activated. For more information or to find the nearest cooling center location or an air-conditioned city facility, people can call 3-1-1.